Amélie is a French film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I saw the trailer and instantly wanted to watch the movie, but I also wanted to watch it as I had heard the movie was brilliant. After watching the movie I understand the trailer, but people watching it for the first time may be slightly confused.
There are 3 different versions of the trailer available: French (no subtitles), French (with English subtitles) and English. All 3 are posted below, but to clarify I analysed the French (with English subtitles) version. I did this because the film was originally intended for a French audience, so I felt I should analyses the original trailer (with a helping hand, i.e. the subtitles).
(French, No Subtitles)
(French, with English Subtitles)
Codes and conventions:
Techniques used to engage the audience:
Camera Shots, Angles and Movement:
The clips in any trailer are the most important part of convincing people to watch the movie. I feel Amélie works really well due to the clips chosen and the order they have been placed in order to develop the audiences understanding of narrative.
There are several quick shots of several different characters whilst the voiceover says “What do all these people have in common?”, there is then a close up shot that lasts a lot longer than the previous clips (see figure 1).
(Fig 1. Camera Shots, Angles and Movement: Intorduction to main character)
As this shot appears on the screen (it lasts for 3 seconds) the narrator tells us the characters name is Amélie, which is also the title of the film. Therefore the audience are able to make the connection that she is going to be the protagonist in the movie and that we will be following her through the narrative of this film.
There is then a clip (figure 2) directly after this that makes the movie seem very artistic and unconventional in terms of filming.
(Fig 2. Camera Shots, Angles and Movements. Artisitc and unconventional filming techniques)
I do not think there is a name for this type of camera movement, but it consists of a Birdseye view angle and a sweeping motion that reveals the scene that does not fit under either a pan or tracking shot. But in any case, it is a really beautiful shots that shows a waterfall behind her (not actually a waterfall, she is stood on a sluice gate [a contraption that raises or lowers the amount of water in a river in order to allow boats through]). Everything in this shot consists of natural colours, apart from Amélie who is wearing a red dress. She really stands out against the background, possibly indicating to the audience that she is eccentric and stands out from the crowd.
The viewer may also get the impression that Amélie is trying to hide her identity from someone, there is a close up shot of her wearing a Zorro outfit (see figure 3)
(Fig 3. Camera Shots, Angles and Movement. Attempting to hide her identity)
Wearing masks and costumes is closely associated with someone trying to hide their identity. It is not clear whether she is playing a game (i.e. hiding her identity from someone on purpose) or whether she wishes to fit it. What the audience can gather from this shot is that because it is black and white it does not fit into the main narrative of this film. Black and white is often used to show flashbacks, things that happened in the past or dreams. This means that this shot does not occur in the structure of the narrative, but appears somewhere outside it, and to fit it into the narrative it has been made black and white to show that it occurred outside of the storyline that is happening in the movie.
There are also several shots within the trailer that reveal to the audience that the film belongs to the genre of fantasy:
(Figs 4, 5, 6 and 7. Camera Shots, Angles and Movement. Fantasy Elements)
Figures 4, 5, 6 and 7 all shows fantasy elements within the film that confirm that the film belongs in the genre of fantasy. We see a range of aspects that we would never see in reality an that therefore means that these clips either have to fit into fantasy or supernatural. I felt they fit better under the category of fantasy as these are all things that the characters see in their imagination that better fits the description of fantasy. Supernatural would be things such as aliens and monsters. In any case, these are definitely not things we would see in reality, the shots include: talking pictures, inanimate objects that move, glowing bodies and imaginary friends.
(Fig 8. Camera Shots, Angles and Movements. Fantasy Elements)
This is also the case with figure 8, there is another glowing person. This would never happen in real life, so again it could only fit the description of fantasy or supernatural. In this case it seems to be more a fantasy element that supernatural.
The use of unconventional camera shots continues throughout the trailer, giving the movie an artistic feel.
(Fig 9. Camera Shots, Angles and Movements. The use of artistic and unconventional filming techniques)
Figure 9 shows the part of a 360 spin the camera does to hint that the character is in a state of disorientation or confusion. This camera shots is quite rare and the only other time I have seen it being used was in Donnie Darko (one of the other trailers I analysed).
Though it is used rarely I feel it creates a huge impact on the viewer, as the camera is spinning, and the camera basically acts as our eyes, we feel that we too are in a state of disorientation along with the character. This shot, used in context, could shows that Amélie entering this man’s life literally turns his world upside-down and cause a great deal of confusion. But that could just be the viewer’s interpretation, they would have to watch the movie in order to find out if it is true or not.
The audience then see the man from figure 9 trying to fine Amélie, a convention of the romantic genre.
This close up shows the man holding an image of Amélie dressed up a Zorro, a shot I talked about earlier. So this shot clarifies that she is playing a game with this man in order to test the strength of his feelings for her. This shot is taken from when he sees Amélie in the café and compares the photo to her in person. We can clearly tell he has a huge smile on his face, so obviously he is pleased that he had found her. This is typical of a movie that falls into the romantic genre, so this confirms that the movie is also part of the romantic genre.
The camera shots in the trailer also hint to what the target audience is, in this case it is adults and we can tell this by two main shots within the trailer (see figures 11 and 12)
(Figs 11 and 12. Camera Shots, Angles and Movements. Hints as to who the target audience is)
These two shots are suggestive of sexual content within the movie, the first is a shot of sperm and the second shot is of someone slamming their hand against the window in a sexually suggestive manner. The fact that these two shots have been included in the trailer hints to us that sexual content plays a large role in the movie, as usually trailers do not include always include sexually suggestive scenes in the trailers to that they can reach the largest audience possible in a movie theatre.
Speed/ Tempo/ Editing:
How does it tease and tempt you to watch the movie?
Other Trailers of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s work:
As Jean-Pierre Jeunet is an acclaimed French director I decided to look at another trailer of his. I looked at his trailer for his movie Delicatessen (1991), see below.
I am not going to lie, my first response to this trailer was literally “What the hell was that about?!”. And it turns out I am not the only one, Matt Ford (BBC) did a review of the film and said this:
“The directors are constantly playing curveball with the audience’s expectations and nothing can prepare you for the sheer weirdness of it all. Every so often, the plot stops to watch a scene spiral off at a tangent, such as a rhythm of creaking beds rippling out through the hotel, or two boys spying on a old man breeding escargots in his flooded apartment.
Combining the cruel humour of Grimm’s fairy stories, with the spirit of Terry Gilliam and that peculiarly French knack of putting magic into film, this feverish tale of star-crossed lovers and small town cannibalism has endured as a true masterpiece of the fantastique. With “Delicatessen”, Jeunet and Caro gave the world a canny and confident calling card for that most coveted of talents – commercial arthouse cinema. Brilliant.”
So it sounds like it is a brilliant movie, but in all honesty I do not feel the trailer did it much justice. If a trailer makes me curious about the storyline then I will go and watch it, but tif the trailer leaves me with no idea of the storyline then I wll probably not bother.
So a good trailer is necessary in order for the audience to want to watch the movie.