Amelie is Salut Beaute (Cinematography essay)

Amelie is a film that takes you on a journey through the life of the title character and the way the cinematography displays it on film is a joyous spectacle. Each shot is beautifully rendered and pulls you into the scene almost literally with the way it establishes the perspective of Amelie, the framing of each shot, and the speed in motion of each scene. The film is an amazing journey and the cinematography helps pull you into Amelie’s life as she goes on this journey to help others and eventually, herself.

The perspective of Amelie in cinematography is typically seen from a medium shot and sets up a move into a close up, tracking, or panning shots depending on what the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel wants you to follow. Most shots place the character or object within the frame, establish the shot, and then move the camera fast or slow into the character or object.

Another perspective shot carried on through many moments in the film is the overhead shot. The overhead shot usually does not begin with a character in frame. It begins to show the scene and tracks to where a character or moment in the film is moving. One of these scenes is of where it has an overhead shot of water and then slowly moves to show Amelie skipping rocks on the water we were just looking at.

At the beginning of Amelie, the framing of the shots are more about the single characters and zooming in to the respective characters as it establishes their likes and dislikes. Later on, as the story is moving forward, the framing changes and plays out like most typical movies with the establishing character to the left or right, and introducing a secondary character. It then plays off and centers each character in frame and swaps back and forth during conversation. There are several group shots where parts of the story has multiple characters in it to show others listening or in being a part of the conversation.

Some of the most intriguing framing is when the shots are set low and don’t show the characters until they start to walk into the low frame of the camera. Another way a low shot is built on, is after showing one character moving into frame, it tracks to the left or right and slowly moves and shows another character interacting with something in the scene.

With both the perspective and framing of the shots, what makes this film different from others, is the speed of motion at which a shot is played at. Some scenes zoom in very quickly, not giving you a chance to really take in the background, but to focus on the character itself. In another moment, it shows the scene and slowly moves around so that you take in all the objects that might be cluttered in the beautiful Parisian setting. It gives the feeling of a playground, or something that feels innocent and wonderful.

The cinematography in Amelie is amazing. The shots give off so much emotion that it feels like it has a life of its own. It takes many things like perspective, framing, and the speed of motion to make a film like this move like the wind, or like a casual walk through a park. These pieces are only a small portion of what it takes for a film to have a high regard in cinematography. I feel like a child when watching this moving, albeit a grown up one.

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