A few weeks back I took an old friend of mine to see Amélie at Rooftop Cinema for her birthday. Amélie is a shared favourite of ours and I have to say it gets better each time I watch it. It’s just so beautiful, and each time you watch it you notice something you hadn’t noticed before. In fact, this time I enjoyed the movie so much I hardly noticed that I was soaking wet from the rain until it became difficult to see the screen. On the way home, my friend mentioned her teacher thinks Amélie is his ideal women, but honestly I think she’d be a little crazy to know in real life. Here are some thoughts on her regardless.
Through Amelie’s eyes, life is a strange but beautiful thing. She is all the little unexpected and inexplicable things which occur in our lives, a beautiful metaphor for the ups and downs of life. The audience comes to adore all of Amelie’s strange quirks and her tendency to meddle in the lives of others. We love her, and desire for her to be happy because of all the seemingly wonderful things she does for those around her. Yet, on closer examination Amélie is as flawed as the rest of us.
One wonders if it is her place to execute such complex schemes that unnaturally change the lives of those around her. Amélie plays cupid and creates an artificial romance between a dysfunctional couple, masquerades as a dead husband in order to fabricate his remorse for cheating from beyond the grave, and takes it upon herself to reek havoc in the life of the resident bully of a greengrocer. We excuse the fact that hardly any of the people question the ‘miracles’ or ‘misfortunes’ which appear in their lives because we know it’s all Amelie’s doing, but after watching the film a few times I have come to wonder if perhaps this is also an attempt to draw attention to and perhaps reject our human tendency to struggle for ‘truth.’
Perhaps the biggest issue around ‘truth’ is the false dichotomy between religion and science. I struggle to see how the eternal debate between science and religion could ever be resolved as a matter of anything other than perception and belief. Despite the affectation of ‘fact’ and ‘truth’, we can never be sure science has solved all the questions of the universe, and similarly, religion will only cease to appeal if life one day conforms to a structure comprehensible to the limited human mind. To me, science and religion are simply two different ways we struggle to make sense of the world, and each must reject some part of the world which does not fit into our flawed methods. In order to make our ephemeral existences somewhat more bearable, science chooses to reject the mysteries of spirituality; whilst religion rejects the idea of an omniscient human race. The result is simply two rather different attempts to address that unquenchable desire to be sure that our lives are something other than utterly insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
In such a way, it hardly bothers me what version of ‘truth’ you choose to believe, but instead I would rather concern myself with the outcomes of your beliefs and the way you live your life regardless of the basis of your morals and ethics. Take for example the atheist who spends their time ridiculing anyone who shows even the faintest interest in religion. This appears to me to be veiled desperation to prove they have chosen the right answer where one does not exist, and an attempt to seek the same kind of self-righteousness that they deride in organised religion. I would prefer to accept whatever imperfect explanation of the world feels right to me and go on living my life as best I can rather than waste my life seeking to solve a question with no answer and of little real consequence.
Amélie is a perfect reminder that our experience of life is imperfect, tinted by the colour of our perceptions, and what Amélie chooses to let us see. Perhaps truth, reality or complete understanding are not really what we should be seeking, but instead I hope to find comfort in accepting that truth is a figment of our flawed imaginations. More importantly, Amélie shows us that the best way to be sure that you are alive, is to believe you are alive and cultivate a sensitivity for the “charm of the little things in life.”
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.