Amélie is a 2001 French film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou. Its original French title is Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain which literally translates as "The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain"; poulain is French for foal. Written by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant, the film is a whimsical and somewhat idealised depiction of contemporary Parisian life, set in Montmartre. It tells the story of a shy waitress who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation.
Amélie won best film at the European Film Awards; it won four César Awards (including Best Film and Best Director), two BAFTA Awards (including Best Original Screenplay), and was nominated for five Academy Awards. (See below for other awards and recognition.)
When she grows up, Amélie becomes a waitress in a small Montmartre café, The Two Windmills, run by a former circus performer. The café is staffed and frequented by a gang of eccentrics. By age 22, life for Amélie is simple; having spurned romantic relationships following a few failed efforts, she has devoted herself to simple pleasures, such as dipping her hand into sacks of grain, cracking crème brûlée with a teaspoon, skipping stones across St. Martin's Canal, trying to guess how many couples in Paris are having an orgasm at one moment ("Fifteen!", she informs the camera correctly), and letting her imagination roam free.
Her life begins to change on the day that Princess Diana dies. After hearing the news of her death on television, Amelie drops her perfume bottle cap, knocking loose a bathroom wall tile. Behind the loose tile she finds an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades ago. Fascinated by the find, she resolves to track down the now-grown man who put it there and return it to him, making a deal with herself in the process: if she finds him and it makes him happy, she will devote her life to bringing happiness to others.
She meets her reclusive neighbour, Raymond Dufayel, a painter who continually repaints Luncheon of the Boating Party (Le Déjeuner des canotiers) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He is known as 'the Glass Man' because of his brittle bone condition. With his help, she tracks the former occupant down, and places the box in a phone booth, ringing the number as he passes to lure him there. Upon opening the box, the man, moved to tears, has an epiphany as long-forgotten childhood memories come flooding back. She trails him to a nearby bar and observes him secretly. On seeing the positive effect she had on him, she resolves from that moment on to do good in the lives of others.
Amélie becomes a secret matchmaker and guardian angel, executing complex but hidden schemes impacting the lives of those around her with subtle, arm's-length manipulation, leading to several sub plots and episodes. She escorts a blind man to the Metro station, giving him a rich description of the street scenes he passes. She persuades her father to follow his dream of touring the world by stealing his garden gnome and having an air-hostess friend send pictures of it from all over the world. She matches a co-worker with one of the customers in the bar. She convinces the unhappy concierge of her building that the husband who abandoned her had in fact sent her a final love letter just before his death. She supports Lucien, the young man who works for Mr. Collignon, the bullying owner of the neighbourhood green grocer. By playing practical jokes on Collignon she undermines his confidence until he questions his own sanity.
However, while she is looking after others, Mr Dufayel is observing her and begins a conversation with her about his painting. He has repeatedly painted the same piece because he cannot quite capture the excluded look of the girl drinking a glass of water. They repeatedly discuss the meaning of this character and although it is never explicitly said, she comes to represent Amélie and her lonely life. Through their discussions Amélie is forced to examine her own life and her attraction to a stranger, a quirky young man who collects the discarded photographs of strangers from passport photo booths, with whom she has never spoken. She begins to observe him from a distance and is on the scene to pick up his photo album when he drops it in the street. She discovers his name is Nino Quincampoix, and she plays a cat and mouse game with him around Paris before eventually anonymously returning his treasured album; however, she is too shy to actually approach him, and almost loses hope when, having finally attempted to orchestrate a proper meeting, she misinterprets events when he enters into a conversation with one of her co-workers. It takes Raymond Dufayel's insightful friendship to give her the courage to overcome her shyness and finally meet with Nino, and the two begin a relationship.
In 2001 it won several awards at the European Film Awards, including the Best Film award.
In 2002, in France, it won the César Award for:
The film was selected by The New York Times as one of "The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.
In 2006, the film came second in a national poll of Australia's favourite films, conduced by television station ABC TV.
Entertainment Weekly named the film poster one of the best on its list of the top 25 film posters in the past 25 years. It also named Amélie setting up a wild goose chase for her beloved Nino all through Paris as #9 on its list of top 25 Romantic Gestures.
|Amélie Soundtrack tracklist|
| Disc 1 (54:15)|
In the Region 1 English subtitled DVD when Amélie orders Nino to look at 'page 51' of his scrapbook, the subtitle erroneously reads 'Page St.' This mistake does not appear on U.S. television sets programmed to display closed captioning.
In the Region 1 English subtitles, Amelie says "But I hate it in old movies, when drivers don't watch the road"; but the French dialogue in fact means "But I hate it in old American films when the drivers don't watch the road." This distinction, however, remains in the Region 2 English subtitling.
A recently discovered new species of frog was named as Cochranella amelie in honor of the movie Amelie. A significant honor in the academic world, the scientist that described the new species stated: "The name of this new species of Glassfrog is for Amelie, protagonist of the extraordinary movie “Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain”; a movie where little details play an important role in the achievement of joie de vivre; like the important role that Glassfrogs and all amphibians and reptiles play in the health of our planet". This new species was described in the scientific journal Zootaxa () in an article entitled "An enigmatic new species of Glassfrog (Amphibia: Anura: Centrolenidae) from the Amazonian Andean slopes of Ecuador" ()
Amélie's scheme involving her father's garden gnome is an example of the "travelling gnome prank", which is based on real life occurrences since the 1980s, and also appeared in the British soap opera Coronation Street. Some journalists have regarded Amélie as the inspiration for more recent cases of the prank. The Traveling Gnome has also inspired the Travelocity "Roaming Gnome" commercials.