Music Composed by: Yann Tiersen
Movie Genre: Comedy, Romance
Movie Release: 2001
Soundtrack Release: 2001
Label: Virgin France

“Give yourself a special gift: Amelie’s soundtrack.
For the rest of your life, you’ll be happy that you did!

“Amelie” has become a reference point for the French cinema, a romantic comedy with a rather distinctive personality in every aspect of its production. Of course, Amelie’s specific temperament is the starting point for realizing the film on a visual and sonic level. Sets and costumes (visual stimulus), and the soundtrack (sonic stimulus), all are inspired by Amelie’s unique character, a young girl who lives in France and she likes to improve the lives of people surrounding her. A girl who prefers to socialize with smiling people, who face life with optimism. An inexhaustible source of kindness, that consciously neglects to become a part of troubled everyday life. An eccentric soul, who carries her own fantasy world as a survival tool, where the real world turns into something far more beautiful and kind. Τhe music of the film coincides perfectly with Amelie’s fantasy world.

Would you like to feel an immediate injection of optimism? Would you like to experience an imaginary musical universe overflowing with kindness? Or perhaps beamed to Paris, to places where Amelie wandered? All the above are possible by listening to the soundtrack of the film. All you have to do is just press “play” and let the music do the miracle! And if you don’t believe that music can do wonders, then perhaps this soundtrack can make you reconsider! Cause this particular soundtrack has the ability to make its listener see the world through Amelie’s eyes, eyes that sparkle with enthusiasm and mood for mischief, structural elements that characterize the likeable heroine of Jean- Pierre Jeunet’s film.

Amelie’s director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, had Michael Nyman in mind as his choice for the composer of the film. A coincidence, however, reversed the normal flow of things: one day a member of the crew offered to give the director a lift. The CD player was on and the director was impressed by the music he heard playing. Until the night came, Jean-Pierre Jeunet had purchased every CD released by the artist, whose music was so enjoyable. His name was Yann Tiersen, a French musician. Fate intervened and the decision was already made:  Yann Tiersen was to be the composer of the film! A musician who is able to perform a great variety of musical instruments, known in his country by his solo CD album releases, before becoming an international star on the occasion of “Amelie”, a film which really catapulted the devotees of his musical voice. For Yann Tiersen, the case of “Amelie” was a godsend gift, which on a personal level gave him the opportunity to find a new field for his musical expression.

All the music Tiersen wrote in the years preceding his cinematic ventures does not differ in style from the new compositions written exclusively for the cinema. The other way around is also true. All the music composed on the occasion of a film is not a foreign object in the whole of his musical career. Either you know the cinematic side of Tiersen, either you know the musician Tiersen through his albums, you will find a single unified musical voice. This voice is shaped by using specific instruments, the composer loves to perform. On the occasion of Amelie’s music these are: toy piano, carillon, banjo, mandolin, guitar, clavecin, vibraphone, accordion, piano, bass, melodica. Ten out of twenty tracks of the soundtrack, were selected from previous albums by Yann Tiersen, a difficult selection, as stated by the director, since many more matched the spirit of the film. In the following track list, you can see which tracks were composed especially for the film and which were used from other Tiersen albums, for further musical exploration.

The orchestra, as it is usually used in a film score has no place in the musical world of Yann Tiersen. It wouldn’t fit to Amelie’s cinematic universe, either. The fantasy world of Amelie calls for a sophisticated instrumental palette. For example, the accordion is forever identified with France and at the sound of it, one’s mind would immediately travel to Paris, where all Amelie’s adventures are taking place. Music’s placement in the movie follows the desired emotion that emerges in every scene. However, this does not mean that the music lacks on thematic material, on the contrary. And therefore, it’s time to focus to the original score written by Tiersen for the movie, dominated by the theme for the heroine.

The track “La Valse d’Amilie” (#3) bears the stamp of Amelie’s music with a waltz performed by an accordion. Why should a waltz be chosen for Amelie? First of all, try to remember the impact of hearing a waltz: it is music that causes euphoria. The viewer/listener is infused with positive feelings, such as those caused by Amelie to the people she meets in her everyday life. At the same time, the waltz is a dance that requires two individuals. This serves the temperament of Amelie’s character in two ways: on one hand refers to the existence of a special other half, identified by Amelie and playing hide and seek with him until, finally, she reveals herself. On the other hand, the waltz is an alternative kind of “dance”, not concerning individuals, but referring to Amelie’s emotional interaction with other people, with an emphasis on the positive emotions she is trying to awake in the hearts of the people she meets. A waltz, colored by the accordion, which focuses on Paris, is the perfect musical incarnation of Amelie’ s soul. The various versions of her theme are always a delight to listen, which enrich her own fantasy world, where the primary mission is to act in a positive way and scandalize everyone with her curious smile, the ultimate tool of survival in a unfriendly reality. Amelie’s waltz, without the presence of the accordion this time, can be found and enjoyed in “La Valse d’Amelie (Version Orchestre)” (#11) and performed by a solo piano in “La Valse d’Amelie (Version Piano)” (#19).

The movie “Amelie” demonstrated a different field of musical expression for Yann Tiersen, certainly a fertile one, which gave him the opportunity to translate into musical notes a unique film heroine. By entering to her imaginary inner existence and creating a very memorable thematic identity, he manages to bend every emotional resistance. Upon hearing the soundtrack of “Amelie”, in a remarkable way, you’ll fill your batteries of optimism, a smile is formed on your face, and kindness fills your heart. Effortlessly, you start to recollect childhood memories. Only positive emotions overwhelm your heart. It seems that Yann Tiersen’s musical universe is not much different from the fantasy world in which Amelie chooses to live. That’s why his music fits so perfectly to the movie. It’s because Yann Tiersen always wrote and will always write music filled with positive energy. In fact, he had been always writing music for “Amelie”, without being aware of it, even before Amelie’s incarnation of Audrey Tautou. Music for a world where sad feelings are hardly limited to melancholy. The dramatic element shines by its absence from his music.

Amelie’s soundtrack is an excellent starting point to get to know Yann Tiersen, so do not hesitate at all and give yourself, or a loved one, this rare musical gift. You will collect smiles and sincere thanks. Give yourself a chance to recharge your own emotional batteries, with such positively infused music, based on the one thing that it’s underappreciated often in film music, that is simplicity. Director and composer invite you for a walk on a sunny clearing, to which frankly this soundtrack is referring to. If the film or the score was a natural landscape, it would most certainly be a sunny clearing.

For more music from Yann Tiersen written for the cinema, read the “Tabarly” (2008) soundtrack review.

Track List:

01. J’y Suis Jamais Alle (1:34)from the album “Rue Des Cascades”
02. Les Jours Tristes (Instrumental) (3:33)from the album “L’ Absente”
03. La Valse d’Amιlie (2:15) *
04. Comptine d’Un Autre Ete: L’Aprθs Midi (2:20) *
05. La Noyιe (2:03) από το album “Le Phare”
06. L’Autre Valse d’Amιlie (1:33) *
07. Guilty (3:13)
08. A Quai (3:32) – from the album “L’ Absente”
09. Le Moulin (4:27) *
10. Pas Si Simple (1:52) – from the album “Rue Des Cascades”
11. La Valse d’Amelie (Version Orchestre) (2:00) *
12. La Valse des Vieux Os (2:20) *
13. La Dispute (4:15) – from the album “Le Phare”
14. Si Tu n’ιtais Pas Lΰ (Frebel) (3:29)
15. Soir de Fete (2:55)from the album “Rue Des Cascades”
16. La Redecouverte (1:13) *
17. Sur le Fil (4:23) – from the album “Le Phare”
18. Le Banquet (1:31) – from the album “La Valse Des Monstres”
19. La Valse d’Amelie (Version Piano) (2:38) *
20. La Valse des Monstres (3:39) – from the album “La Valse Des Monstres”

* Original score composed by Υann Tiersen.

Total Time: 54:00

The tracks that stand out are noted with bold letters

Score Rating: * * * *