Amélie Was Really a KGB Spy: Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet Re-Edits His Beloved Film, Amélie, into a New Comedic Short

No French film of this cen­tu­ry is more beloved than Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie. Or rather, no pro­tag­o­nist of a French film in this cen­tu­ry is more beloved than Audrey Tautou’s epony­mous Amélie. Hence, no doubt, why the movie is best known by that short ver­sion of its title rather than by the long ver­sion, Le fab­uleux des­tin d’Amélie Poulain. Now, more than twen­ty years after the release of Le fab­uleux des­tin d’Amélie Poulain, Jeunet has fol­lowed it up with La véri­ta­ble his­toire d’Amélie Poulain, which you can watch (with option­al French or Eng­lish sub­ti­tles) just above.

“After all this time,” Jeunet says in a brief intro­duc­tion, “I felt the moment was right to tell you, at long last, the real sto­ry of Amélie Poulain.” She turns out, accord­ing to his voice-over nar­ra­tion that fol­lows, not to be a sim­ple Mont­martre wait­ress who ded­i­cates her­self to sur­rep­ti­tious­ly enrich­ing the lives of those around her.

In fact she works as a spy for the KGB, hav­ing first been recruit­ed in child­hood with the promise of can­dy bars. That may sound far-fetched, but Jeunet sup­ports every detail of Amélie’s dou­ble life, and of the sto­ry of her re-entry into espi­onage after the fall of the Berlin Wall, using the very same scenes and involv­ing the very same char­ac­ters we remem­ber from Amélie.

On one lev­el, La véri­ta­ble his­toire d’Amélie Poulain tes­ti­fies to the endur­ing play­ful­ness that keeps Jeunet from tak­ing his own work — even the work that became a glob­al phe­nom­e­non — too seri­ous­ly. (Indeed, that spir­it is on dis­play in the orig­i­nal movie’s exag­ger­a­tion of whim­si­cal-French-film tropes.) Much like the Hol­ly­wood­i­fied Kubrick trail­ers we pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, this new short also con­sti­tutes a demon­stra­tion of how the mean­ing and impact of cin­e­ma are cre­at­ed not by the images them­selves, but rather by their con­text and jux­ta­po­si­tion. And so, with char­ac­ter­is­tic clev­er­ness, Jeunet has rein­vent­ed Amélie as a Sovi­et agent by employ­ing the prin­ci­ples of Sovi­et mon­tage.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Shin­ing and Oth­er Com­plex Stan­ley Kubrick Films Recut as Sim­ple Hol­ly­wood Movies

Paris Through Pen­tax: Short Film Lets You See a Great City Through a Dif­fer­ent Lens

Tui­leries: The Coen Broth­ers’ Short Film About Steve Buscemi’s Very Bad Day in the Paris Metro

A Cin­e­mat­ic Jour­ney Through Paris, As Seen Through the Lens of Leg­endary Film­mak­er Éric Rohmer: Watch Rohmer in Paris

How to Jump the Paris Metro: A Wit­ty, Rebel­lious Primer from New Wave Direc­tor Luc Moul­let (1984)

His­to­ry Declas­si­fied: New Archive Reveals Once-Secret Doc­u­ments from World Gov­ern­ments

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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