By Tom Weimer, ’18
Columnist discusses influential French movie and lessons that Americans can learn
For the past few years of my life, my Netflix account has been haunted by the vague yet familiar face of the impish AmÃ©lie. Though the movie never really caught my attention as I scrolled through the selection of movies, her pale smirking face and black bob turned up on a regular basis. Eventually I began to passively accept this semi-threatening force in my life; that is, until it was brought up by my French teacher. She referred to “AmÃ©lie” as stupendous film and an irreplaceable part of French culture. Could this be the same AmÃ©lie that never ceased to stare directly into my soul? Intrigued, I began the movie right after school.
Much of the movie was entirely in fast-paced French, and taking into account my only mediocre ability to understand the language, I reluctantly switched on the subtitles. Anyone who’s seen a foreign film knows that subtitles break the magic that movies create; having to constantly switch your eyes from reading English to paying attention to the movie is difficult for even the most experienced movie-watcher. Regardless, the whimsical and humorous portrayal of Parisian life instantly caught my attention.
The film centers around AmÃ©lie Poulain, an imaginative girl who’s mother’s death results in a lack of socialization in her childhood, which she responds to by creating a world of her own that functions more like a game than reality. After seeing how happy she made a stranger when she returned to him a toybox from his childhood, AmÃ©lie vows to dedicate her life to bringing happiness to others. Through elaborate plans, she slowly shapes the lives of those around her.
AmÃ©lie herself soon begins to fall in love, but due to her anti-social tendencies, she constantly uses cat-and-mouse games, similar to the schemes she uses to bring happiness to others, to avoid actually meeting him. Eventually she is given a piece of advice by her neighbor, who suffers from Brittle bone disease: “So, my little AmÃ©lie, you don’t have bones of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton,” he says, telling her to stop treating life as a dream and to actively chase what will make her truly happy.
So, there I sat at two in the morning, dumbstruck at how odd life is. For some reason this peculiar film struck a chord in my heart that has never been struck before. Living in Upper Arlington, AmÃ©lie’s story had a certain impact on me; being raised in a bubble, I have forgotten that life is for going out and chasing things that will make you happy, rather than passively waiting for them to happen. I urge everyone to watch the movie, or at least take this nugget of wisdom and integrate it into their lives. Stop waiting for great things to happen in your life; go out and make them come true.