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HTF REVIEW: "Amelie" (Highly Recommended) (with screenshots)

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#1 of 125 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 02 2002 - 01:18 AM

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Studio: Miramax
Year: 2001
Rated: R
Film Length: 122 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)

She'll change your life

From the moment it begins, Amelie bursts
with a surge of joy and energy. It's a fable of
sorts about a young girl who finds happiness by
coming out of her shell and reaching out to others.

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Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) is an innocent,
imaginative girl raised in isolation by her father,
full of shyness and seemingly lacking in social
skills despite her waitress job at the Deux Moulins
in Paris.

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One day Amelie discovers a small box of childhood
trinkets hidden her bathroom wall and vows to find
its owner. The success of this venture inspires
the young woman to help others, anonymously
influencing and altering their lives.

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Director Jeunet populates his film with a splendid
array of colorful characters like Raymond Dufayel
(Serge Merlin), an old man with an illness that
causes his bones to shatter like glass or Lucien
(Jamel Debbouze), a guy who finds beauty in
vegetables, or a landlady (Yolande Moreau) who
continues to dwell on the husband who left her
thirty years ago. As for the grocer(Urbain Cancelier),
who is cruel to his assistant, Amelie has special
plans for him.

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Amelie is a wonderfully uplifting motion picture
that features a sparkling performance by Audrey
Tautou in the lead role. You can't help but to
be mesmerized by her large brown saucer-shaped
eyes that transmits such loving innocence. The
film shows such an affection for it's lead character
as well as all the characters she meets.

How is the transfer?

Trust me on this , Amelie is as close to
transfer perfection as you can get. In fact, not
since Moulin Rouge have I seen a film with
such eye-popping color against a pristine transfer.
This film is an absolute treat for the eyes.
Although green dominates the film's color pallet
(it can be seen in every scene), the film is filled
with eye-popping saturated colors with unimaginable
intensity. The colors are so vivid in some scenes
that I found the slightest bit of over saturation in
some of the reds. Still, this is one of the best
transfers out there featuring a crisp, clean picture
and not a hint of any video noise.

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The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is quite good, but not
overly aggressive. The front channels feature
strong and distinct stereo separation with a crisp
robust sound that brings out the film's tiniest
sounds with amazing clarity. The rears are
effectively used for adding ambient effects. As
Amelie and her father talk in the garden, the sound
of howling wind envelopes the listening area. The
rears provide ambience to the many train station
scenes, with sounds of crowd and PA announcements
amongst reverberating echo.

There is extremely strong, intense LFE channel
activity, but it only kicks in a few times during
the course of the film. There are a few heavy THUDS
that occur at key points of the film, and at
moments emphasis needs to be used in the film's
soundtrack. What becomes the BEST use of the LFE
channel comes at a point in the film that I will
keep a surprise. Let's just say it occurs during
a toilette scene and the bass really adds to the
scene's hilarity. This is the first time I have
noticed the subwoofer channel used so creatively
in this manner.

Special Features

Miramax has released Amelie as a deluxe
2-disc Special Edition.

Posted ImagePosted Image

Amelie arrives in an attractive green slipcase
packaging. A porthole on the front case shows
Amelie's smiling face. The innards slide out to
reveal a 3-pane gatefold that contains the two
DVD discs stationed in plastic hub housing.

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Disc One contains the 122 minute film.
Be sure to click on the SETUP menu to
choose your choice of English or Spanish subtitles.

A full length commentary by Director
Jean-Pierre Juenett is featured in both English
and French.

A Sneak Peek area contains a promo for
the film's soundtrack, trailers for Behind
The Sun; Life is Beautiful; Il Postino
The Closet. There is also a very nice
promo for Miramax titles.

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Disc Two contains the wealth of supplemental
material. Let's take a look at it....

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The Look of Amelie explores Director
Jean-Pierre Juenett's vision of making a film
that stands out as being bold and bright, filled
with saturated colors. Cinematographer Bruno
Delbonnel gives us many examples of how color
is used throughout the film to effectively bring
out the character's mood. Director Jeunnet is
noted for his precision in filmmaking as we watch
him meticulously go through photos and storyboards
in preparation for the following day's shoot. The
Cinematographer and Director talk about scouting
out locations in Paris, which were essential in
bringing a certain point of reality to the film.
Jeunette talks about the advantages of digital
editing where he was able to greatly alter the
color of the film and have an explosion of colors
available at his command to do as he wished.
(length: approx. 12.5 minutes)

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Fantasies of Audrey Tautou contain about
2 minutes of the actress giggling, making faces
and cracking up. This is a short collage of all
the goofs that didn't make it to the screen.

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There are three Screen Tests for the
principal cast members, Audrey Tautou, Urbain
Cancelier (the grocer) and Yolande Moreau
(red-head landlady upstairs). It's quite a
pleasure to watch Audrey out of character as
she is such an adorable young female. Watch
Urbain deliver his lines with such anger only
to totally lose it and crack up at the very end.

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Taped in front of a live audience at the American
Cinematheque in Los Angeles earlier this year, a
Q&A with Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet brings
the Director on stage in a very upbeat and funny
interview. It's startling to see how good the
Director's command of the English language is,
given the fact that two years earlier, he didn't
know the language. The Director does misunderstand
one of the questions concerning the financing of
the film, giving a totally irrelevant answer, but
nonetheless this is a really candid interview where
the Director takes questions from the audience in
attendance. One of the most interesting questions
is how the stone skipping sequences were shot
given the fact that Audrey could not do them herself.
(length: approx. 24 minutes)

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A Q&A with Director and Cast brings Director
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Audrey Tatou, Mathieu Kassovitz
and Jamel Daebbouze (grocery boy) on stage in front
of the French press. A very lively interview
fields questions from the press, with some very
humorous answers from the cast, including Kassovitz
who humorously describes the problems of shooting
a train station sequence with a car in view that
was not supposed to be there. Be certain to turn
on the SUBTITLES as this entire sequence is in French.
(length: approx. 5.5 minutes)

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A Storyboard Comparison brings us to the
fun fair scene where Amelie rides through the spook
house. Using dual windows, we see a split-screen
of the film's original storyboard drawings set against
the final cut of the film.

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An Intimate Chat with Jean-Pierre Jeunet shows
that the Director is a very cool individual -- he
collects and appreciates DVDs! He so absolutely
impressed with Director Shyamalan's commentary
on The Sixth Sense DVD that he wanted to
do the same for his film. So, here we are, a sort
of video commentary of the Director giving us all
the inside facts about bringing together this film,
including how he chose the film's title, how he
chose the actors involved, the various test
screenings in the United States, and the initial
ambitious reviews by the press.
(length: approx. 20.5 minutes)

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I found this really fun to watch. Home Movies
takes us inside The making of Amelie, with
raw footage taken on the set and in preproduction.
We begin with watching the beautiful long-haired
Audrey Tatou getting her hair cut. Next, we watch
groups of people huddling inside a photo machine
that snaps the small images that are later seen in
the film's found scrapbook. Next we watch Director
Jeunet going through the many storyboards and
planning his shots. A cute segment with Jamel
Debbouze shows us the kind of humor the actor
has, as he makes fun of Director Jeunet. Now
THIS is interesting... we watch Jeaunet
filming the various orgasm sequences with couples
in bed or leaned up against a table. All of this
concludes with some funny skewed auto portraits
that were taken of the cast.
(length: approx. 12.5 minutes)

In Trailers and TV Spots there is the
original U.S. theatrical trailer as well as the
original French theatrical trailer. There are 12
U.S. TV spots and 5 French TV spots.

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The Amelie Scrapbook are filled with
publicity and promotional photographs. There
are many stills taken behind the scenes, as well
as a short storyboard of the spook house sequence
and french poster concepts. The most interesting of
all these are the many photographs of the garden
gnome's travels.

Final Thoughts

Quirky, inventive and visually amazing, Amelie
is the kind of film you rarely see coming out of
Hollywood these days.

This is the type of film that most people probably
ignored during its theatrical run despite the praise
of critics worldwide. I realize how tough it is to
sell foreign films to the members of this forum,
but I also have faith that there are many of you
who will look outside the mainstream mentality and
take a chance on a film that will ultimately
surprise you.

Can't recommend this one enough!

Release Date: July 16, 2002


Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner


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#2 of 125 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

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Posted July 02 2002 - 01:32 AM

Awesome review Ron !! I'm all over this one. 2 weeks till this is finally in my collection.

#3 of 125 OFFLINE   Nick Sievers

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Posted July 02 2002 - 01:35 AM

I'm glad this got the (Highly Recommended) tag, this is truly a gem of a film. Jeunet created such a stunning and beautifully shot film here and I can't wait to actually own it on DVD and show some of my friends and family just what they missed in the theater. Audrey Tatou was just gorgeous in the role and its certainly going to be interesting to see what she will be doing next.
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#4 of 125 OFFLINE   Eujin


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Posted July 02 2002 - 01:37 AM

Nice job, Ron. This is one of my favorite movies of all time--now I just have to decide which version I'm gonna pick up.

#5 of 125 OFFLINE   DonRoeber



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Posted July 02 2002 - 01:54 AM

Like the other posters have said, this is a fantastic movie. And one of my favorites of last year, if not of all time. It's dissapointing that we only get a two disc set. I recently picked up the TVA Canadian Amelie set, which has all sorts of goodies along with the movie. The TVA set is french only though, no english subtitles.
Luckily, right at that moment, an unconscious Argentinean fell through my roof.

He was quickly joined by a dwarf dressed as a nun.

#6 of 125 OFFLINE   ChrisMatson



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Posted July 02 2002 - 02:00 AM

I did the same thing. I will be picking this one up as well for the English subtitles. I won't think of this as "double-dipping" as much as that I will have a four-disc super-deluxe set, plus the CD soundtrack. I highly recommend a purchase on this one. You will fall in love...

#7 of 125 OFFLINE   Mario Bartel

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Posted July 02 2002 - 02:26 AM

>>I won't think of this as "double-dipping" as much as that I will have a four-disc super-deluxe set, plus the CD soundtrack.

Same here; I like that spin, Chris Posted Image

I'm thrilled to hear Miramax did a good job. I'll be at the door of my nearest dvd retailer right at opening in two weeks to pick this up. And then I'll finally be able to share this most wonderful film with some of my more dubious friends, who look at me askew when I tell them it's even fun to watch completely in French, with no subtitles!
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#8 of 125 OFFLINE   Brian Kaz

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Posted July 02 2002 - 02:51 AM

Excellent! So glad to hear that the transfer is awesome. This was by far my favorite movie of 2001. And like Mario said above, now I can force all my friends and family who have never seen it to come over and experience this absolute gem of a film.

Posted Image

#9 of 125 OFFLINE   Chris Xolotl

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Posted July 02 2002 - 04:45 AM

Ron. Thank You! I have one coming on Thursday. One of my few pre-books this year.

#10 of 125 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

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Posted July 02 2002 - 04:52 AM

Ron, very nice review and some nice screenshots also. I'll be honest and say I let this one slip through the cracks when it was at theaters. I love Jean-Pierre Jeunet's style, especially what he did with City of the Lost Children . I'm putting this on my purchase list, looks absolutely gorgeous!


#11 of 125 OFFLINE   Dan Brecher

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Posted July 02 2002 - 05:07 AM

Good review, Ronbo.... more so with the glorious Amelie score playing behind me here. Posted Image Looking forward to this release very much.

Quick curiosity... Do the subtitles stay within the film frame, or do they slip into the lower widescreen bar?


#12 of 125 OFFLINE   Kenneth Cummings

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Posted July 02 2002 - 05:46 AM

Very nice looking and sounding set, Ron. I will definaity get it for my birthday (24th of July), so can enjoy a very nice movie as I eat ice cream cake. I wonder if we got the first normation for DVD of the Year?
I need a new signature.

#13 of 125 OFFLINE   Tim RH

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Posted July 02 2002 - 06:00 AM

No DTS track on this release, is that correct Ron?

#14 of 125 OFFLINE   SteveGon


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Posted July 02 2002 - 06:33 AM

[quote] I realize how tough it is to
sell foreign films to the members of this forum... [quote]
Not this one! I'll be picking Amelie up as soon as the store opens. Posted Image Now if we could only get a nice R1 release of Delicatessen to go along with this and City of Lost Children...

#15 of 125 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 02 2002 - 06:47 AM

No DTS track. It's a shame as I expected Disney would at least offer one on this 2-disc set. The subtitles, as I remember, stay in the bottom of the picture not the bars area.


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#16 of 125 OFFLINE   Dharmesh C

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Posted July 02 2002 - 08:53 AM

Watched the R2 a few weeks ago, if I remember it had a dts track. Great picture, glad the director is hanging in Europe and not in Hollywood making things like Alien 4!

Don't understand the lack of dts on R1 discs Posted Image By far the most inventive film in the last few years.

#17 of 125 OFFLINE   Seymour Uranowitz

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Posted July 02 2002 - 10:55 AM

Fans of this film should also check out Happenstance (2000), in which Audrey Tautou gives another charming performance as a young woman looking for love. Only this time fate plays a much bigger role (as the title implies). Definitely worth a look if you like Amelie, and already available as an R1 release.

#18 of 125 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted July 02 2002 - 11:21 AM

What extras make the Canadian TVA set worth getting? I know there are supposed to be ~3 hours of interviews, but if they're in French with no English subtitles, it's not of much use to me. DJ

#19 of 125 OFFLINE   Dana Fillhart

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Posted July 02 2002 - 11:55 AM

Amélie was my 3rd-favorite of 2001, but the more I think about it the more I really put it as a tie with Memento for 2nd (both behind Fellowship of the Ring). I'm looking forward to picking this up more than any other DVD outside of the 5-disc FOTR special later this year. I wanted to pick up the French-only lunchbox set I saw advertised but as I know I'd never find it in stores (and not wanting to order online), I passed up on the opportunity. Now I wonder if I shouldn't just go ahead and bite the bullet and buy both versions.

Audrey Tautou is a goddess! (well, to me she is Posted Image) I saw Happenstance at a Barnes and Noble, but WAY overpriced; I passed on it in hopes of finding it cheaper elsewhere but no such luck...

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#20 of 125 OFFLINE   PaulP



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Posted July 02 2002 - 12:31 PM

Thankfully Ron's confirmed that the R1 DVD will in fact have the commentary track (and looks like 2 commentaries, actually) that it was previously rumored it will lack. Can't wait!

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