Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain is a colorful, accordion-accompanied film about Amélie, whose childhood was suppressed by a mistaken diagnosis of a heart defect. Her isolation causes her to retreat into a fantastical world of imagination. As a young woman, she leaves home to becomes a waitress at the Café Des 2 Moulins (two windmills) in the heart of Paris. In her Montmartre apartment, she discovers a time capsule from a previous tenant’s boyhood. In resolving to return the memories to the owner, she sets off to become a do-gooder. After helping those around her, Amélie soon realizes she must be bolder in pursuing love and her own happiness.
From the endearing missions, to the quirky romance and the Montmartre backdrop, the film has always filled me with such happiness. For my 29th year of life, I, like Amélie, decided to plan something whimsical and quirky for myself- a night in which the film came to life!
[In the apartment of Raymond Dufayel]
-I really like this painting.
-It’s “Luncheon of the Boarding Party” by Renoir. I paint one every year, for years now. The hardest is the eyes. Sometimes, they change their moods on purpose,when I’m not looking.
-They look happy here.
-They better be! This year, they had hare with morel and waffles with jam for the children.
Amélie doesn’t have a boyfriend. She tried, but it didn’t live up to her expectations. On the other hand, she enjoys all sorts of little pleasures,putting her hand in a bag of seeds,piercing the crust of crème brûlée with the tip of a spoon. And [skipping stones ↓] on the Saint-Martin-canal.
The French Flag of Goat Cheeses- Fraternité, Égalité et Liberté
[At the home of the grocer Collignon’s parents]
–Before the grocery, he used to be a ticket puncher.
-What’s wrong with that?!
-At night, he gets up and punches my oleanders!
Since hordes and hordes of tourists flock to Montmartre each year, I adorned the table with a typical tourist souvenir- snowglobes featuring my own photos of the Sacré Coeur and the Café Des 2 Moulins.
Amélie’s only friend is called “le Cachalot.” But the atmosphere at home turned it into a neurasthenic and suicidal fish. Since these suicide-attempts only increased her mother’s stress,a decision is made. ENOUGH!!!
[Amelie and her father in his kitchen after the disappearance of his garden gnome]
–Your garden gnome is gone ?
-Is he back in the shed?
-Moscow and there. Nothing.No explanation.
-Maybe he wanted to travel around.
-I don’t get it. I don’t get it.
Since Amélie worked in a cafe making espresso drinks, I baked a mocha cake, layered with mocha buttercream (recipe to come!). The opening credits inspired the raspberry garnish.
Amélie’s only refuge is the world she makes up. In that world, vinyls are made the same way as crêpes, and the neighbour’s wife, who has been in a coma for months,just decided to do all her sleeping at once.
The outside world seems so dull that Amélie prefers to dream her life until she’s old enough to leave. Years later, Amélie is a waitress in a bar in Montmartre, Les Deux Moulins [pictured above in my own photo from Montmartre] .
[In the movie theater]
-Sometimes, Amélie goes to the movies.
-I like to turn around in the dark to see the faces of the people around. And I also like to spot the little detail nobody will ever see. But I don’t like it when the driver doesn’t watch the road.
-I know who the mystery man of the photo machines is, M. Quincampoix.He’s a ghost, M. Quincampoix. Nobody can see him.He can only be seen on photographs. When a girl has her picture taken,he moans: hooooooooooo. While he softly caresses her neck. That’s when he’s caught by the camera, M. Quincampoix!
Behind the “theater,” I made a Photomaton (photobooth), since no Amélie party would be complete without a photobooth. More details on DIY photobooths in a subsequent post.
If you have ever listened to the film’s soundtrack by Yann Tiersen, you know the accordion plays heavily into the theme. Fortunately for me, I happened to know a really talented musician! The party would not have been the same without his musical accompaniment.
[Intro to Nino Quincompoix]
Pages full of failed identity photos that their owners had thrown away and that had been re-assembled and classified by some eccentric. Some family-album!
Photos by my very talented friend Alex Mohamed!
Party held at Assemble: A Space for Arts + Technology (and the occasional birthday party)