Полина Толмачева
Film critic and marketer
Liberal Arts
5 minutes for reading

PHILOSOPHICAL CINEMA: Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie is the first instablogger in history or the role of art in the mass market

PHILOSOPHICAL CINEMA: Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie is the first instablogger in history or the role of art in the mass market
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20 years ago, the film Amelie was released, which not only became a favorite film of the first decade of the 21st century, an international hit, an Oscar winner and a manifesto of urban life and human alienation in a big city. It has become a phenomenon.

This success is not that strange – good cinema, talented and daring director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. But it’s always interesting why this or that good film or good text became cult. Well, what could be interesting in The Incredible Story of Amelie Poulain for millions of fans?

This year I was lucky enough to see Amelie on the big screen. And it is an experience that cannot be compared with anything. In the darkness of the hall, I finally solved the riddle, over which I fought for 20 years: why the film begins on the day of the death of Princess Diana. Everything turned out to be very simple: one pop icon died, the other one was born, about who billions of people know a lot and they are grateful. And it is not Amelie’s desire or her dream. It’s true.

And the point is not that she helped her neighbors find their happiness, because, basically, Amelie was engaged in pure gaslighting, passing off the desired or traumatic for reality, violated personal boundaries, but the fact is that the film Amelie concentrated visual and the conceptual meanings that later became the basis for the network covering the entire planet.

It’s about Instagram.

No, I’m not talking about the fact that the creators of Instagram, who, of course, dreamed primarily of world domination and money, spied something from the film. But they certainly saw it – and were inspired.

And even if you haven’t seen it – here we are talking about ideas that are in the air, and that before the mass market notices them, the artist sees them first. A marketer, a politician, a businessman are next.

Look, everything is very obvious.




The colors that prevail in Amelie are red and green – everything seems to be “overcooked”, and with the help of this color scale grayish, dirty and rather boring Montmartre turns into a parallel reality. It was on it that Instagram “took off” at one time – on the ability to turn banal photos into professional ones with the help of filters. The “warm filter” is one of the most beloved to this day.




Here the story is as follows: there are 4 walls in the theatre and in the cinema, including the wall between the audience and the action on stage or on the screen. But sometimes it falls when the character addresses the viewers directly, looking into their eyes, and not overhead, or commenting on what is happening on stage.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is happy to use this technique in his film. Then Amelie will tell us something straight from the darkness of the cinema, where she sits in an armchair, just like we. Then she will shift her gaze from the interlocutor and look into our eyes, and smile or shrug.

And then we understand – she is real, just like we, she is here, next to us. Instagram is based on this technique: the authors of the content communicate directly with the viewer, and the selfie, which has become the new visual culture of the 21st century, is about it in general.



There is nothing special to comment on here. We all know that faces work on Instagram, preferably in close-ups.




In Amelie the main accents are in the center. For cinema, this composition is not very typical, but an elementary experiment shows how easily a horizontal frame with a central composition is cut into a square – and it was with this limitation that Instagram began, and we still unconsciously observe this rule. The main thing is in the centre. It’s simple.




The journey of the garden gnome and fixing his location is the first travel instablog in history. And its purpose is to motivate the audience to take action. In the film, it worked. It also works at Insta, and that’s what it stands for.




Amelie demonstrates her skills and discoveries to us with all frankness. Put frogs in the water, touch beans, age paper with tea, make a plum cake, find a guy in Paris, drive an unpleasant neighbor crazy. All her actions are scheduled by the minute. Take it and do it! By the way, about beans: a very effective way.

Recently, my neighbor in the village handed me a bucket of polished homemade beans and said, “When I’m sad, I always do it. I’m cleaning the beans. And everything is getting better. Here you are, Polya, now you definitely need it”. I refused, said that it would be very expensive beans, and then I tried.

I sat for half a day, uncovering the rough skins so that I could feel the smooth, warm beans under them. I listened to music. I didn’t think about anything. As a result, I got a bowl of white beans, and I became much happier.

It is unlikely that my neighbor looked at Amelie, and the village near the White Church does not look like Montmartre at all, but the beans work!

However, we are distracted.




The visual range of Amelie is completely clean, there is nothing superfluous, every small color or interior accent is of great importance. And the emphasis on oranges or a tobacco display case, or on a cup of coffee changes not only the angle of view, but the whole picture of the world.

And it is also another secret of Instagram and its overwhelming success. You can take a picture of breakfast, and everyone will understand that it’s delicious and warm for you. Even if there is cold boring chaos outside the frame. Or a ring on your ring finger, or car keys, or the heel of a newborn. The devil is in the details – we all know it now and actively use it. Surely you can find something else, but I will not tire you.

There is something else that is important besides the visual language. The film Amelie tries to solve one of the most basic problems of humanity: how to overcome loneliness. The answer is obvious: no way, because a person comes alone and leaves alone. And the feeling of alienation is always with him.

But if you do not make attempts to feel the warmth of other people at least for a short time, then there is no need to live. And Amelie makes these attempts. And even gives us a recipe, it’s a lifehack, how it can be done. And mostly, each of the billions of posts on Instagram is an attempt not to be lonely, to become seen, heard, understood.

Details, filter, share useful, tell about an experience, take a selfie, record a story. Whether it is the correct way, we do not yet know. Most likely no.

But popular – for sure.

And if it were not for Amelie, then, perhaps, the world would be different today.

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