I love the film Amelie. I mean, how could you not? And if you don’t like it then we might not be able to be friends. However, if you call yourself an arthouse or foreign movie fan you will have undoubtedly already seen Amelie (and if you haven’t, then I suggest you quickly go out and rent it, or better yet buy it before anyone finds out!). Therefore I thought I would do a post on MicMacs, which is a lesser-known film by the same director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
MicMacs, which premiered in 2009, was billed as a “satire on the world arms trade”. Doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? I didn’t think it would be mine either. But Jeunet is so innovative that it’s quite hard not to fall in love with this movie, and its unique storyline makes it even more lovable. Jeunet describes the movie as a mix between Amelie and Delicatessen. He originally came up with the idea for the movie when visiting a local restaurant where some of the regulars were known arms dealers. Jeunet was intrigued by their "nice-looking faces".
When Bazil is just a child, his father is killed while attempting to defuse a land mine. 30 years later Bazil is hit in the head by a stray bullet (I told you it was weird). Luckily he survives, but on the flip of a coin the surgeons decide not to operate but rather leave the bullet in his body. This means that although he will be healthy, he also runs the risk of dying at any moment.
Bazil becomes homeless and ends up making friends with a group of mismatched scavengers who live in a trash dump: Elastic Girl, a contortionist; Mama Chowis, cook and leader of the crew; Remington, a former ethnographer who speaks in old-fashioned cliches; Buster, a human cannonball; Tiny Pete, an artist who designs moving sculptures from scavenged trash; Slammer, a former convict and guillotine survivor; and Calculator, a young woman who measures and calculates things with a glance. They are so much fun. Apparently Jeunet got inspiration for these characters from the film Toy Story.
Together, they decide to form a band and take revenge on the arms industry. What ensues is much hilarity, bizarreness, suspense and plain good entertainment.
Interesting fact 1: Jeunet toured arms manufacturing plants in Belgium for research while producing the film. Some dialogue was taken directly from interviews with arms dealers. The sabotaged machine in De Fenouillet's factory was modelled exactly after an actual machine in a plant which Jeunet visited.
Interesting fact 2: There are five appearances of the film's poster, usually hidden in quick shots.
Interesting fact 3: Jeunet also decided to reference his earlier film Amelie in the shot where Bazil first lowers his microphone into a chimney. The planned scene would show Amelie and Nino in a small apartment with several crying children. Amelie star Audrey Tautou was shooting Coco Before Chanel, and was unavailable to act the scene. The shot was replaced by a homage to Jeunet's Delicatessen. In the final scene, Dominique Pinon sits with a woman and plays a musical saw.
Until next time :)