Tuesday, June 15, 2010


There is no imagination quite like the imagination of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Jeunet exploded onto the international scene with Amiele, a unique and visual wonder and has been watched ever since. I appreciate the films of Jeunet if for nothing else because my artist sensibility can’t picture scenes and the world the visual way he captures it – colors are different, textures unique, his characters are vibrant & odd – it’s complete and wonderful.

Micmacs is no exception to this rule. It is visually lavish and filled to the brim with quirks and oddities that would make Terry Gilliam jealous. The only thing that kept from from fully falling in love with this film is that it’s a message movie.

The basic concept of Micmacs is that Bazil lost his father to a land mine, and was accidently shot in the head during a drive-by shooting and when he finally finds the manufacturer of the bullets and the mine he decides to extract revenge. I’m not supporting war mongering, but I never got attached enough to Bazil to really care about his revenge, and therefore care about his message.

I think the ultimate problem for me with Micmacs came down to the fact that this film is a satire, and I think when translated into English it’s missing its initial and cultural punch. I felt like I was incapable of understanding the real humor because I wasn’t French – I couldn’t get the nuances of the language or the political situation. It took a google search alone today for me to figure out that the name itself is probably a joke; if I understand correctly Micmacs is a term for some indigenous group in French Canada, and the remaining title (which is deleted from translation in America) means “non-stop madness”.

Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoyed the film. There is nothing like taking a walk into a visually rich world that is so different than your own – I just feel like my cultural experiences kept me from understanding what I wanted to understand. I almost feel that I won’t be able to have a full and complete understanding until I do a lot of research on it.

What I did start wondering after Micmacs is how well our satires have translated into other countires. Did half of Europe see Thank You For Smoking and wonder why we thought it was funny? Or did they watch Tropic Thunder and not understand Simple Jack & the controversy behind an actor in black face? I’ll be pondering that issue for awhile.

Jeunet is still one of my favorite filmmakers, and I am still discovering his films. I highly recommend him to anyone that wants to see a fantastic voice outside American film. I would also like to know if anyone else watched Micmacs and had a similar feeling to mine, please chime in on your thoughts of the film.

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writers: Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Guillaume Laurant
Bazil: Dany Boon

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