Cinema Profile: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Cinema Profile: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Take a look at the career of one of France’s most inventive filmmakers.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet made his name with his rather magical brand of cinema in films such as Delicatessen and Amélie. But it all began many years earlier when, as a young student of animation in 1970, the 17-year-old Jeunet bought his first camera.

He began experimenting with short films and co-directed a number of award-winners with Marc Caro, whom he’d met at an animation festival. Then in 1991, the duo completed their first feature-length project, catapulting Jeunet to international fame. That project was, of course, Delicatessen, which was a global success and won Césars for best screenplay and best debut.

The pair teamed up again in 1995 on La Cité des enfants perdus (The City of Lost Children), which won praise for its stylish special effects and led to Jeunet being invited by Hollywood to direct 1997’s Alien: Resurrection. In 2000, he was back on home turf and about to seduce the cinema-going public with the delightful whimsy of Amélie, which made a star of Audrey Tautou and scooped five Oscar nominations, four César nominations, and sold more than 30 million tickets worldwide. Tautou also appeared in Jeunet’s next project, Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement), adapted from Sebastien Japrisot’s novel about a woman who sets out to find out how her fiancé really died in the First World War.

In 2009, Jeunet directed the comedy MicMacs à tire-larigot (Micmacs), starring Dany Boon, which pointed a satirical finger at the world arms trade; and then came The Young and Prodigious T. S. Spivet in 2013, a tale of a boy cartographer living on a ranch in Montana starring Helena Bonham Carter and Judy Davis. It won the César for Best Cinematography.

Which brings us to Bigbug, made for Netflix in 2022, a sci-fi black comedy about a group of residents in 2045 whose domestic robots stage a rebellion. “During this project I experienced (all modesty aside) the same thing as Scorsese with The Irishman,” mused Jeunet. “I have been toting this script around in France for four years, and it has been rejected by all (as were Delicatessen and Amélie in their time)… And then one day David Kosse from Netflix wrote from London asking me if I might have a project… A resounding ‘yes’ with a big smile came back just 24 hours later! Since then we have been living a dream.”

Jean-Pierre jeunet’s 10-second CV

Name: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Born: September 3, 1953, in Roanne, in the Loire department.

Early career

He bought his first camera at the age of 17 and made short films while studying animation at Cinémation Studios. His pal Marc Caro, a designer and comic book artist, was a frequent collaborator and together they directed a number of award-winning animations before turning their attention to Delicatessen.

What’s his style?

Jeunet’s cinematic style is of a piece with the Cinéma du look of the late 20th century, which includes the likes of Luc Besson.

What should I watch?

Obviously the showstoppers are Delicatessen and Amélie, but Bigbug is great fun and beautiful to look at, plus it’s on Netflix!

C’est pas vrai!

Jeunet has directed plenty of advertisements and music videos throughout his career, including Michel Jarre’s Zoolook. And at one point he was in the frame for being director of Life of Pi, before the project was handed to Ang Lee.

From France Today Magazine

Lead photo credit : © Shutterstock

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  •  Mara
    2024-05-29 06:46:02
    Amélie is in my top five movies ever! I enjoyed Big Bug just last week!