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Friday, 22 February, 2002, 14:33 GMT
Jeunet's eccentric eye
Amelie: Broke US box office records for a French film
BBC News Online profiles quirky French film-maker Jean-Pierre Jeunet, creator of the acclaimed movie Amelie.

After more than 20 years as one of France's most popular art house film-makers, Jean-Pierre Jeunet has finally charmed the international market with Amelie.

The film has become the best-selling French movie at the US box office to date, making more than $20.9m (14.6m).

It has also been nominated for five Oscars and nine Baftas, including one for best film.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Jeunet: A favourite among art house film fans

And even the most hard-nosed of film critics seem largely to agree that Jeunet's film is "magical" and one to "capture hearts and imaginations".

The story at the centre of Amelie is full of whimsical appeal. It centres on a naive, young woman who finds she has a unique gift for helping others.

The film is bright, colourful, optimistic and fast-moving, which is something of a departure from Jeunet's characteristically dark, quirky fare.


His best known films include 1991's cannibalism comedy Delicatessen and 1995's macabre fairy tale The City of Lost Children.

Yet Amelie is not quite the radical change of tack for Jeunet that it might initially seem.

Beneath the sugar coating, Amelie shows Jeunet's trademark odd-ball side with globe-trotting gnomes and a cruel grocer.

Delicatessen: Had cult appeal

It also pays tribute to Jeunet's skill for minute attention to detail and humorous camerawork.

Jeunet's film-making career has its roots in fruitful early collaborations with fellow Frenchman and friend Marc Caro.

They worked together throughout the 1980s, producing wacky shorts, adverts and music videos.

In this time, they honed their shared love of the peculiar before launching into full-length feature films - with great success as they made Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children.


Delicatessen - a grotesquely comic movie about post-nuclear survival among the weird inhabitants of a dingy, ramshackle house - remains a huge cult hit.

The City of Lost Children is a fantasy movie, boasting elaborate sets, a baffling plot and impressive filming techniques.

Alien Resurrection
Alien Resurrection marked Jeunet's brush with Hollywood

But in 1997, Jeunet suddenly turned his sights to Hollywood, where he went to direct the fourth film in the Alien horror franchise, Alien Resurrection.

Caro acted as design supervisor on the movie. The result was that it has many of the lugubrious characteristics of their joint work.

None the less, Alien Resurrection did not prove as successful as its three predecessors and Jeunet returned to film-making in France.

Branching out on his own, Jeunet began hatching plans to bring his idea for Amelie to fruition.

Amelie was said to have been a true labour of love for the director, as he painstakingly reworked the script over several years.

Finally in 2000, Amelie was completed and the length of time looks to have had its pay-offs.

It allowed Jeunet to develop his strengths and produce a film that is both a worldwide hit and true to his creative beliefs.

See also:

04 Feb 02 | Film
Amelie leads Cesars chase
30 Jan 02 | Oscars 2002
Composer Tiersen serenades Amelie
22 Jan 02 | Film
Amelie charms US box office
05 Oct 01 | Oscars 2002
Spellbinding Amelie
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