Music

Amélie: Soundtrack Review

todayNovember 15, 2022 119 4 5

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Andrea Moor

Music Journalist

The 2001 acclaimed French film, “Amélie,” portrays the story of a lonesome young woman who searches for comfort and happiness in life. Despite the film’s instances of nearly sadistic realism, the story is depicted in a youthful manner due to Yann Tiersen’s playful soundtrack, the film’s vibrant oversaturation, and the recurring symbolism. The plot develops as Amélie, the heroine of the tale, finds a buried box in her apartment complex. In an attempt to return the stashed treasure to its owner, Amélie finds joy in the implications of doing “good” in the world. With this newfound passion, Amélie strives to continue to do humanitarian acts for the sake of providing more happiness in the world. 

Screenshot close-up of Amélie sipping from a teacup
Screenshot close-up of Amélie sipping from a teacup / Amélie

Throughout this mission, Amélie stumbles across an employee at an adult shop, Nino. Nino enjoys collecting abandoned pictures from a nearby photo booth to add to his ongoing collage project. Amélie longs for Nino and, as a result of this, forms an obsession similar to that of a developing teenage girl. From innocently stalking the boy across Paris to collecting mementos for him, Amélie successfully finds herself in his embrace as the film draws to an end. 

 

The film’s appeal seems to stem from its relevance and depiction. With “Amélie,” viewers catch wind of a seemingly naive young woman eagerly embarking on adulthood- a fact of life we all experience. Through the lens of Amélie, we’re reminded of what it’s like to endure life as we mature. As the film includes bits of comedy and manages to spin around trauma, it reiterates how we should all progress in a manner that acknowledges our past but fully embraces what’s to come.  

 

Alongside the plot’s development, the work of Yann Tiersen complements the film eloquently. Through the reference of Tiersen’s assistant, Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet swiftly selected the 52-year old musician who claims to “…not [be] a composer,” due to his absence of a classical background. 

 

 Close-up photo of Yann Tiersen with an electronic soundboard
Close-up photo of Yann Tiersen with an electronic soundboard / Richard Dumas

The soundtrack begins to take its form from the infusion of the Brenton creative’s older studio work and fourth album, L’Absente, which was being developed at the same time. Featuring a wide array of instruments from all instrument families, Tiersen cleverly implements the banjo and the use of a spinning bicycle wheel. The cast of this project also includes the talents of the Ensemble Orchestral Synaxis, Christine Ott, and Christian Quermalet. Additionally, there’s the mastering of Uwe Teichert and the mixing of Fabrice Laureau that need to be thanked.

 

The track listing is as followed, as well as the specifications of any additional collaborators:

 

  1. “J’y suis jamais allé”
  2. “Les Jours tristes” (Instrumental) (written by Tiersen and Neil Hannon)
  3. “La Valse d’Amélie”
  4. “Comptine d’un autre été : L’Après-Midi”
  5. “La Noyée”
  6. “L’Autre Valse d’Amélie”
  7. “Guilty” (performed by Al Bowlly; written by Gus Kahn; composed by Richard A. Whiting and Harry Akst) 
  8. “À quai”
  9. “Le Moulin”
  10. “Pas si simple”
  11. “La Valse d’Amélie” (Version orchestre)
  12. “La Valse des vieux os”
  13. “La Dispute”
  14. “Si tu n’étais pas là” (performed by Fréhel; written by Gaston Claret and Pierre Bayle)
  15. “Soir de fête”
  16. “La Redécouverte”
  17. “Sur le fil”
  18. “Le Banquet”

 

There’s also some French CD Bonus Tracks, as followed: 

 

  1. “La Valse d’Amélie” (Version piano)
  2. “La Valse des monstres”
  3. “L’Autre Valse d’Amélie” (Version quatuor à cordes et piano)
  4. “Les Deux Pianos”
  5. “Comptine d’un autre été : La Démarche”
  6. “La Maison”

 

lier Promo for the film “Amélie”
Flier Promo for the film “Amélie”

Securing mass expert acclaim, it was no surprise that the nearly hour-long avant-garde soundtrack received the 2001 World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Score of the Year and the 2002 César Award for Best Music Written for a Film.

Tiersen carefully crafted a soundtrack that naturally follows the plot, which further invokes the viewers’ emotions. I appreciate that he played into the child-like wonder Amélie endearingly radiates. In doing so, the music is nearly personified, as if the viewer was watching their favorite cartoon show. In fact, if I were asked to provide a sample of what I feel Paris sounds like, I’d provide this compilation partly due to its fond use of folksy accordions. 

From this, I’d advise any reader to indulge in Tiersen’s work. If you’re like me, you’ll admire his complexity being executed in seemingly simple measures. Managing to play into widely-shared daydreams and fantasies is a strong suit that Tiersen strikingly possesses. In short, since listening to this album, I’ve been tempted to splurge the remaining couple thousand in my bank account on a trip to Paris to fulfill my fantasy of parading through the city whilst wearing a red beret and matching shoes.

 

Written by: Jordan Young

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