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2. Amélie (2001), dir Jean-Pierre Jeunet

I know the entire world saw this film and loved it nearly a decade ago, but I somehow never got round to it, so I'm just catching up.

I may not have chosen the best time, actually. I think the circumstances of my life at the moment mean I'm a bit too tired and cynical to really engage with its life-affirming message. Ironically for a film about escapism, it wasn't escapist enough for my present needs.

Still, I did enjoy it as a finely-crafted work of art. All of the performances are excellent, the camera-work was playfully innovative and interesting without being distracting, and I loved the muted colour palette which managed to make modern-day Paris look as though it had slipped backwards into the golden haze of the '50s and '60s. It made me laugh sometimes, too, especially when we saw the results of the naughty tricks which Amélie played on M. Collignon (the green-grocer), so I'm not completely beyond hope.

It did give me a bit of a shock language-wise, though. I've been watching TV5 Monde at home quite a lot lately, and it had lulled me into a false sense of security about my French language competence, since I can watch it quite happily with no need of subtitles and follow pretty much everything that's going on. But TV5 Monde consists mainly of news programmes and documentaries, in which clear factual information is explained slowly and distinctly in the crispest of accents by presenters who are aiming quite consciously at a global audience, including non-native French speakers. Amélie, on the other hand, is full of people speaking in idiomatic and sometimes slangy everyday French at an enormously rapid pace. I didn't half need the subtitles, I can tell you.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 26th, 2009 11:56 pm (UTC)
I just love French film - the language is beautiful, even if I understand only the smallest fraction. Subtitles don't bother me - I can skim them and just soak up the sounds of the voices, the pattern and rhythms of the speech.

Given the option between subbed or dubbed, I'd take subbed. Even Japanese anime, which can be dubbed very well loses something in the translation, I think. You need to hear the actual actors speaking the lines for the scenes to flow.

I really regret not keeping up with French at school. I was good at it too.
Feb. 27th, 2009 09:24 am (UTC)
Oh, definitely - dubbing is no good at all, even if you don't know a word of the language. As you say, all the rhythm and tone in the original performance is lost.
Feb. 27th, 2009 10:12 am (UTC)
I expected to loathe this because I thought it would be sissy, and in fact I loved it. But not as much as I loved the similar A Very Long Engagement, with the same actress (WWI content swung it for me).
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