Color drives us all. Sometimes it can sooth us and other times it can stress us out. With Amelie, color is a major character for the Mise-en-scene in this film. There are other pieces that are fundamental to to what is in the scene like the settings of a film, the lighting of each set or character, or the acting of each character. Each of these things helps represent the film and tell the tale of what it is about.
There are several settings represented in Amelie. In the beginning and shown randomly throughout is Amelie’s house where she grew up. A rather cluttered home that seems simple, small, and organized. The house is where Amelie is homeschooled by her mother for a time and then later on, the place that her father resides after retiring. Some of the focus is shown to be the area outside of the house where Amelie’s father has created a shrine for his deceased wife, which looks a bit like a sandcastle, but with a gnome on top of it.
The next setting is that of Amelie’s apartment that is rather red in its decorum and simplified yet filled with different objects such as her ingredients for food, vases, her plants outside on the balcony, and pillows strewn across her couch. The bathroom in her apartment has baby blue and perhaps a yellow tile to it that pulls a nice contrast from the entire red surrounding the rest of her place.
The last setting I will talk about is that of the Two-Windmills Café, the place that Amelie works. A fairly sized place that is a café, a bar, and a smoke stand. Many pieces of the stories and characters are brought here or come into the café throughout the film. It has this softness about it that keep s it from feeling cluttered like many of the other places in the film.
The lighting of Amelie is very wonderfully done in this film and gives off this softness of yellows and greens throughout and makes it feel like a painting. There is a lot of High Key lighting in the entire film that enables you to see everything that is going on. Most of the indoor shots utilize a Three Point lighting that is what gives us an amazing amount of color separation from the characters and objects in the background. I believe that the lighting and the type of colored lenses used in this film is what helps to give off a feeling of calmness and of innocence.
With the acting in all of the characters, each feels to be a character with many quirky attributes that allows the film to move smoothly from one scene to the next. The film began with showing Amelie as a child doing little things that kids would do; like making cut-out figures, putting glue on and pulling it off her hand, and putting raspberries on their fingers and acting with them and then eating them. You have a neurotic mother and father who each have their likes and dislikes; A woman who can’t get over her deceased husband leaving her for another woman; A jealous ex-boyfriend who sits in the bar and records things he could be jealous of; A man who collects the thrown away torn photos of other people from photo booths. All of these characters are just many of the quirky actions each of the people in Amelie’s life keeps her life spinning.
This is just the first layer of surface to the multi-layered film of Amelie. There are so many multiple pieces that establish Mise-en-scene that goes far beyond the minor explanation of settings, lighting, and acting. The film itself is carried out with excellent precision of all people involved that include the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, production designer Aline Bonetto, and art direction by Volker Schafer. It is a fulfilling world seen through the eyes of a young and innocent woman.