Precious Bodily Fluids


Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen was a highly stylized, post-apocalyptic, retro-surrealist film that presages Jeunet’s later, more famous, Amelie. The film used a variety of dark colors (especially reds), and materials were exclusively metallic, wooden, or flesh – no plastics. (In one scene, a character’s drinking glass appeared plastic, which catches the eye when everything else is non-plastic.) Jeunet used a very wide-angle 35mm lens, which seems to be in style these days, especially in style-driven films. You get the impression that you’re watching the film through the peephole of a door. This effectively created the sense of claustrophobia that the characters were feeling. The sequence of all the tenants gradually performing actions to the same rhythm of the squeaky bed, as well as the intercom-like pipes, provided good support to a group of people that were slowly becoming ever-too-close to their fellow residents. The cannibalism wasn’t overdone, which it would have been if done by an American director. And like Amelie, Jeunet’s protagonist in this film (Louison) is a naive, optimistic hero who is able to improve the lives of others by realizing the existence of evil only in time to save the day, then returns to playing his musical saw. As opposed to the very American Krusty the Klown, Louison so enjoys his clown work that he rehearses his acts even when working as a general fix-it man, by himself in his apartment, fondly recalling the days of companionship with his old partner “Dr. Livingstone.” If there isn’t a lot of depth to Jeunet’s films, he can certainly be applauded for his lack of cynicism and the interesting look of his work. In closing, the bullshit detector was hilarious; wish I had one.

This entry was published on April 25, 2008 at 11:31 am. It’s filed under 1990s Cinema, French Film and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “Delicatessen

  1. This film is probably the most famous one in the musical saw community. Gorgeous musical saw & cello duet.
    Thank you for your comments about this film – I find them interesting.

    All the best,

    Saw Lady

  2. I think you do have a bullshit detector.

    P.S. Is the whole film as green-tinged as this photo? Amelie often had a green-tinge.

  3. Zach on said:

    Yeah, pretty much. It wasn’t so green that it overwhelmed you (a la The Matrix), but I think they kept the gel on most of the time. Flashbacks may not have been greenish. It effectively created a sense of moldiness everywhere.

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