Amélie, what dreams are made of?￼
Dreams are made of tiny stories, if you think about it – both the ones we have at night and the ones we save money for. Regardless of the type, they are made of tiny stories to make a bigger one; story about the dreamer. I watched Amélie for the first time in ages and… It felt more personal. Are these times really hard for dreamers?
Without you, today’s emotions would be the scurf of yesterday’s.
I almost wrote “it’s been a weird” week, but the truth is… It felt far more normal than previous ones. And, let me be clear – I don’t mean work, I don’t want to talk about it (it’s not bad, just especially challenging). Summer is in full swing, it’s a little too hot for my taste, but… I know that I will miss the heat in the colder months.
For the past few weeks I’ve been going out more, seeing friends and family on a daily basis, been out and about, danced in a club (first time IN AGES), listened to live music (HOURS, HOURS OF LIVE MUSIC) and I never felt more alive.
Oh, well – as a kid I probably did. I mean, having 2 months of summer vacation and spending them at the seaside with my grandparents? Having a clean beach 3 minutes away from the flat, spending my carefree days in the water, eating fresh fruits and veggies from my grandpa’s garden and going out with the fam in the evenings to listen to live music? If that’s not the best life, I don’t know what is.
I’ve been thinking lately that I appreciate even the smallest things in life – like a morning cup of tea (hell yeah, that’s a major improvement to my mornings!) on my balcony, where I can walk barefoot on this grass thingy. Or finally loving scrambled eggs again! Going out with my best friend or hosting trivia night in my friend’s pub… All these little things made me think about one of my favorite movies of all time: Amélie (also known as Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain).
We pass the time of day to forget how time passes.
I first heard about it from my godmother – it used to be her favorite (now that I think about it, I think it still is. The soundtrack for sure!). And the first time I watched it, as a teenager, was with my mum (who is not a big fan). But I was immediately in love, though for a different reason than I am today.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, written by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant, it’s a 2001 French film about “life” in Paris. But not just any life – it’s about an extraordinarily fantastic life of Amélie Poulain. From a young age, you could tell she was different but that’s always interesting to see. In almost all cases, we can “thank” our parents for it.
Amélie did not have “easy” life – her parents wrongly suspected a heart disease and thus she was home-schooled. With no friends, the little girl only had herself to be with. Her amazing imagination brought to life a lot of plushies. With her mother’s sudden death, she and her father grew apart even further and Amélie’s dreams of having a loving family were suppressed by dreams of moving out as fast as possible.
Having no interaction with people of her own age, Amélie was a quiet dreamer. She worked as a waitress at Café des 2 Moulins in Montmartre – a place that could be called a “collective of peculiars”. But she felt good among them; being a peculiar person of her own, Amélie fitted right in and at the same time, she felt like she had no place of sense of purpose whatsoever.
You mean she would rather imagine herself relating to an absent person than build relationships with those around her?
I wanted to make this screening special for me – like a celebration. So, I decided to take myself on a date! Movie dates are very underappreciated, so I decided to make them cool again with a simple dinner, glass of wine and one last (saved!) piece of cheesecake. I tuned out and declined all calls and messages for a few hours. And when the sun was finally ready to give up its relentless battle with the clouds, I played the movie. With my favorite Christmas lights and hot tea, of course.
Watching Amélie felt way more personal, as I said. Why? It was probably the first time I watched it as an adult, that’s for one. Two, I could relate to various moments and pieces of that film… I’m not saying my life is like a movie, though I am a protagonist after all, but… Some aspects of that movie spoke to me.
When Amélie found that tiny box hidden in the wall of her apartment, she immediately decided to go on a quest to find its rightful owner. Based on the owner’s reaction, she would make a decision that would determine the rest of her life: she would either make other people happy or… Well. Just keep on living.
Lately I’ve been giving so much of my energy to others. And I don’t want it to sound like a bad thing, but every battery needs charging, right? There is this one scene in Amélie when her neighbor asks her if she believes in miracles. That moment right there, when she does not have the energy to hid her sadness… I know what that feels like.
Amélie has a strange feeling of absolute harmony. It’s a perfect moment. A soft light, a scent in the air, the quiet murmur of the city. A surge of love, an urge to help mankind overcomes her.
They say that the happiest people are the quietest when they are tired and I agree with that 100%. Being that energy-giving volcano is both a blessing and a curse – on one hand we only have one life (I hear you, my dear Spock) and we should put ourselves first. At least more often, right? On the other hand, the thought of making someone else happy… It’s making me feel good about the world.
And most people don’t need much – an afternoon coffee and a walk (even if I feel extremely tired) or a family gathering in our favorite bar (even though we’ve been there 134 this summer) … These are tiny stories for me and they make tiny dreams I am able to make come true.
It does not cost me much – just like it does not cost much for our dear Amélie. Sure, it takes effort (being social in my case, finding the owner of the box for Amélie), but… All relationships are about the effort people put in. There will be days, in everyone’s lives, when the other person will have to invest a little more, because their significant other will need a little extra.
And there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not always black and with or 50-50 situation. Amélie knew that, and I know it too. The thing that links me to Amélie is… The fear. When/if I find that right person… Will my overthinking be the (figurative) death of me?
Nino is late. Amélie can only see two explanations. 1 – he didn’t get the photo. 2 – before he could assemble it, a gang of bank robbers took him hostage. The cops gave chase. They got away… but he caused a crash…
I think fear is one of the major obstacles on people’s way to happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy with my life right now! And just because I choose to be single, it does not mean that I am lonely or sad. Being single is not an indicator of my happiness. And for sure doesn’t mean that I am closed for opportunities or whatever changes the Universe will throw at me.
But I can’t help this negative thinking sometimes – what if fear will be the only obstacle for me? What if I find the right person to share my happiness with but my fear will take over? Happened once, so there is a chance it can happen again?
Well, of course. But if Amélie taught me something is that every once in a while, you must take the wheel and tell the fear to fuck tight off. Fear is the mind killer and once the fear is gone, only I will remain. Sometimes we need someone to say it out loud for us – and again, it’s not selfish. Never was and never should be.
I also think that for people who give so much to others – energy, love, attention, smiles and happiness – it’s hard to step away. It might be the most bitter-sweet drug on Earth. But these people around us, they will not live our lives for us. Sure, they will be forever an essential part of them, but… I cannot let my life just slip through my fingers. It’s not a wasted life, to make other people happy, but it for sure is not completely full.
So, my little Amélie, you don’t have bones of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So, go get him, for Pete’s sake!
Being afraid of your own happiness is a strong theme in Amélie. Maybe that was pushing the girl to do so much for the others, even if it backfired a bit (Georgette and Joseph?). She tried, and even though Yoda says “do or do not, there is no try”, I strongly believe that trying gets us somewhere. Maybe not exactly to the place we originally wanted, but somewhere? That’s a start.
Amélie was trying with Nino. She was afraid to just show her cards, so instead she did this “cat-and-mouse” game with him, but… He was just the same. Like they were made from the same clay – a little weird (in the best possible way), quiet and missing something in life (though not necessarily knowing what). And once again – I totally understand and relate to that.
As my second “one of favorites” movie says: You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.
For Amélie it was a few words from her mysterious neighbor, Mr. Dufayel, who throughout the movie became her, as writers’ call it, messenger. His task was to deliver the most important message and he did – but only because gave him something else, something he was missing in his life.
The fool looks at a finger that points at the sky.
I guess my conclusion is to find the right amount of balance in life, not completely shift our universes. The dreams that we have – of concerts, travels, having a house, a wonderful family, movie-like romance… These are the tiniest stories, and if you put them together… You will get a full picture of the person in the mirror.
Having that Friday night completely for myself was wonderful. Few years back, I would think of it as something very selfish, but I learnt a valuable lesson this past year – if I don’t feel 100%, I will not be able to give my goddess 😉 energy to other people. And, with full consciousness, I know it’s not the sole goal of my life, but it is a great part of it.
Amélie ends like the last chapter of your favorite book – you want more, but you are oddly satisfied with what you’ve seen. The protagonist was happy and radiant. Her life was just about to begin… Again. This time, with someone by her side, who showed her that no matter what, she is worthy of love. Despite feeling otherwise her entire life.
Any normal girl would call the number, meet him, return the album and see if her dream is viable. It’s called a reality check. The last thing Amélie wants.
From a technical point of view, this film is a tiny masterpiece. The camera work, the montage and edits… It’s so unusual these days! Feels more like it was shot by a random person that likes to do collages in their free time – just like Nino. But together with the script, it works wonderfully.
The iconic soundtrack probably deserves a whole separate post, but I don’t think you would like to read it. Composed by a genius mind – Yann Tiersen (who also made score for yet another favorite of mine Good Bye Lenin!) probably used magic to bewitch us all.
Hans Zimmer is my favorite composer, that’s for sure. But the Amélie soundtrack is probably my favorite one. On the other hand, there is The Lion King… Gosh, but it’s a different kind of love. Okay, you know what? Only a Sith deals in absolutes, so once again I will say – Amélie score is ONE OF my favorites of all time.
The score, besides the majority of the accordion and piano, features parts played with harpsichord, banjo, bass guitar, vibraphone… And all of it just sounds like heaven. Like you are living in Paris, 20-something years ago and your life is about to change. But you don’t know it just yet.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Some movies stick with us for life, and for me that is the case with Amélie. I think it’s safe to say that if every person has an instruction, Amélie is a damn well written manual about me. In some aspects, of course.
I generally don’t forget about such great movies, but it’s been a lovely while – but everything happens for a reason. I believe it was the perfect moment for me to watch it and reflect on my life. It’s not too late to gently tilt the steering wheel, no? Just a couple centimeters, to make sure I will not miss out on anything.
One last thing – lately, I’ve been “collecting” movie rituals and there is one in Amélie that I absolutely adore. It’s the grand finale, when Nino comes back to her apartment, because he never wanted to give up, even though Amélie was scared. When the girl opens the door to see him there again, she knows.
In that scene, when Nino is in her apartment, she doesn’t allow him to speak just yet. Instead… Amélie places gentle kisses on his cheek (almost touching the corner of his lips), his neck and forehead (almost kissing his eyelid). Then, she shows him to do the same. One of the most beautiful, intimate love declarations I’ve ever seen and if my life, at some point, will decide to turn into a movie scene… That would be my scene.
Amélie is a wonderful and warm story about an extraordinary girl and her extraordinary life. Simple pleasures, tiny dreams and bigger fears – that’s the fabric of any life. Magic in the form of cinema that… I sometimes wish we could use it in real life.