Amelie (Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le) (2001)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Audrey Tautou's Funny Faces
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||116:36 (Case: 122)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (64:59)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Jean-Pierre Jeunet|
Magna Home Entertainment
Artus De Penguern
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, cast photographs|
Forget any preconceptions you might have about French movies or even any apprehensions you may have regarding watching foreign films - this is a truly delightful film that will win your heart with its whimsical charm and innocent quirkiness. Much of the film is carried by the narrator (André Dussollier), sharing subtleties in the plot and opening up the innermost thoughts and feelings of the characters, but the accompanying visual images and the acting are equally striking and subtle at the same time.
Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) is the daughter of two somewhat eccentric and neurotic parents: father Raphaël (Rufus) and mother Amandine (Lorella Cravotta). The only time her father touches Amélie is when he is giving her a medical examination, which causes her heart to palpitate and her father to believe that she is suffering from a heart condition. So Amélie has been educated at home by her mother, who tragically dies from being crushed by a suicide jumper (don't worry about the outlandish plot elements - it's all part of the fun). Amélie became an introverted but rather imaginative child, obsessed with the small things in life, concocting some wonderful fantasies, and possessing the ability to plan rather elaborate acts of kindness (or revenge).
Despite her rather unusual and eccentric childhood, Amélie grows up to be a beautiful but terribly shy young woman living in Montmartre (a district of Paris). She works as a waitress alongside some rather zany colleagues and even zanier customers.
One day, her life changes when she accidentally discovers an old box (containing toys and memorabilia) that used to belong to a child hidden away in the wainscotting of her apartment, on the day that Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed. She becomes obsessed with the idea of finding and returning the box to Bretodeau (Maurice Bénichou), who is now a middle-aged man.
When her quest succeeds, she turns to the idea of becoming an invisible agent of change to those around her: helping tobacconist Georgette (Isabelle Nanty) find love, encouraging her father to travel by means of a garden gnome (revealing any more would spoil the plot!), explaining to a blind man (Jean Darie) what the world around him looks like, and teaching the insensitive grocer Collignon (Urbain Cancelier) a lesson.
However, Amélie's greatest challenge is to assist an eccentric young man Nino Quincampoix (Mathieu Kassovitz) in solving a mystery. Why is a strange bald man taking photographs of himself in instant photo booths all over Paris and then immediately discarding them in the rubbish bin? Nino is on an eternal quest collecting scraps from photographs from these booths and building a photo scrapbook in his spare time. Amélie has fallen in love with this strange young man but does not have the courage to actually talk to him.
Wherein lies the fabulous destiny of Amélie? In between, she confides to a neighbour Raymond Dufayel (Serge Merlin), who is a painter (who only copies a painting of Renoir over and over again) and student of human nature that has never left the doors of his apartment (he has brittle bones). I love their conversations - ostensibly about the painting, but also about Amélie and her love life.
I realise in simply describing the plot of the film I am not really doing it any justice. Look, just take my word for it. Go and watch it. I guarantee you will be enthralled.
The transfer is presented in its intended aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The film print is Super 35, however the entire film has been "digitally graded", i.e. the film has been digitised and the colour tone on every frame has been altered.
I must admit I was extremely pleased with the transfer - it is pretty much perfect apart from a few minor instances of shimmering and there were no compression artefacts to be seen. I suspect the transfer may have been transferred from the high definition (2K) digital master - it looks very clean.
I did notice some film scratches during the opening titles, particularly around 2:20, but I suspect the damage has been done prior to digitisation as even the marks are colour-toned.
Detail levels are excellent, and colours are fully saturated. Due to the digital grading, many scenes have a warm yellow tone - even the reds look somewhat orangeish. Curiously, the scene where Amélie and her mother releases the pet fish into the river does not seem to be digitally graded and looks bluish in comparison.
There are English subtitles, but unfortunately they are burned into the video stream rather than available as a separate subtitle track. The subtitles are in a large and easy to read font.
This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 64:59, during a slight pause on Amélie's face, and is not really noticeable.
If you must watch in on a 4x3 display in Pan & Scan, automatic Pan&Scan information is encoded in the transfer.
There are two audio track on the disc: French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), and French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). I only listened to the 5.1 audio track.
This is a very pleasing and excellent audio transfer. Dialogue is nice and crisp and no doubt understandable if you speak French (which I don't). I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization.
Surprisingly, there are quite a lot of Foley effects in the film, and they are well positioned across all channels so the film wasn't as dialogue-focused as I thought it would be. I definitely remember some Foley effects being positioned to the rear channels.
The background music is by Yann Tiersen and has a whimsical tone, much like the film. It sounds somewhat like the soundtrack to The Piano by Michael Nyman but with lots of accordions.
The subwoofer is only used lightly.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are a number of extras on the disc, but nowhere near the quantity and quality available on the R1 and R2 2-disc editions.
The main menu is 16x9 enhanced and animated, and comes with very LOUD background audio. There is an extensive set of intros (mainly logos).
This is presented in 1.85:1 letterboxed (no 16x9 enhancement) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). It is obviously intended for a UK theatrical audience.
This is presented in 2.35:1 letterboxed (no 16x9 enhancement) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). It is a collection of Audrey Tautou making various faces and bloopers during filming.
This presents the storyboard of Amélie taking a ride in the amusement park side by side with the finished film excerpt, both as small 1.85:1 frames within a 1.33:1 aspect ratio frame and with Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.
This contains 14 stills of various on location behind the scenes photos (colour and black and white).
This is presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). It has a number of sequences:
There is no dialogue - just music from the film.
This is a web page containing Flash animation. It contains the following additional extras
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Well, where do I begin? Although the Region 4 release contains a number of extras, they are nowhere near the abundance found on the Region 1 or 2 2-disc editions. There are also 1-disc editions released in R1 and R2, but I suspect these are now discontinued. For simplicity, I am only comparing the R4 to the 2-disc editions. There are also subtle differences between R1 Canada vs US and R2 across various countries (UK, Germany, France, Japan...) which I won't detail.
To ease comparison, here is a table comparing the features of the various editions. Highlights indicate a feature not common across all releases.
In the following table, red indicates a feature not present in Region 4, purple is a feature unique to Region 1 (US), blue is a feature unique to Region 2 (UK), and green is a feature unique to Region 4 (although in both cases a close equivalent is also available in the other regions).
|Feature||Region 1 US (2 disc edition)||Region 2 UK (2 disc edition)||Region 4 (1 disc)|
|Video format||2.35:1 (16x9 enhanced) NTSC||2.35:1 (16x9 enhanced) PAL||2.35:1 (16x9 enhanced) PAL|
|Audio tracks|| || || |
|Subtitle tracks||English, Spanish||English||English|
|Extra features|| || || |
The R1 Canadian version is in a collector's box including 6 postcards, 8 "polaroids" of the gnome travelling in an envelope, a stone (which Amélie was contemplating throwing on her father's window), photo album, and soundtrack CD, in addition to the 2 discs. It also has French subtitles instead of Spanish, and includes an interview with director Jeunet on Canadian TV. However, it misses out on the English audio commentary track and the dts 5.1 audio track.
Hmm, which one to get. Well, obviously R4 loses out big time, but which one to choose amongst R1 US, R1 Canadian or R2 UK (or even France, Germany, Japan ..)? After some careful thought, my vote goes for R2 UK - it's the only one with both an English commentary track and dts 5.1, plus it has a number of features not present on the R1 versions.
Amélie is a delightful and charming film about a shy and eccentric girl who influences the lives of those around her.
The video transfer is excellent, but the colours have been digitally adjusted for a warm tone.
The audio transfer is also excellent.
Extras are okay, but nothing compared to the R1 and R2 2-disc editions.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Denon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)|
|Speakers||Front and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|