Although Amelia for the most part is an incredibly happy and romantic movie, it does not start out that way. Many of the characters in the film have sad and dark pasts, but probably the one with the saddest and hardest past is Amelie’s herself. For as joyful as she is as an adult, it took a great deal of resilience to get her there. Her childhood was not an easy one and it was not filled with happy stories. One of the most striking parts of the movie that the entire rest of the film is built upon is Amelie’s childhood.
In possibly one of the saddest parts of the film for anyone who dealt with feelings of abandonment or touch deprivation, is when Amelie’s father, Raphael Poulain, diagnoses six-year-old Amelie with a heart defect as he is giving her a check up. He reaches this diagnosis because he hears her little heart pounding. It is so sad because the only reason her heart is beating like that is due to the fact that her father never physically touches her except to give her her monthly check up. She is so excited by this interaction that her heart beats out of control (Moore 13). This interaction ends up shaping the rest of her childhood, and in a way her entire life.
Amelie’s father declares her unfit for school so she ends up all alone being taught at home by her mother, Amandine Poulain (Moore 13). She has no other children to interact with so she is forced to rely on only her imagination for company, driving her thoughts heavily inwards. Later in her life she seems to not quite know how to interact normally with people. She is awkward in social situations (Moore 10). Instead of talking to the man that she is falling in love with, she chooses instead to have him go through this sort of scavenger hunt to find her. Although none of these thing are terrible, you do see evidence of Amelie feeling like an outsider in her life when she is talking about the girl in the Renoir painting.
Another dark moment in her childhood, is when a neighbor decides to pull a cruel joke on her when she takes photo on her camera the moment before a car crash. He scolds her and tells her it was her fault that the cars crashed. This sends her into a petrified state, afraid that her taking pictures all afternoon was the cause of multiple crashes and fires around the area. When she discovers later that he was fooling her, she shows a dark side to herself by getting revenge (Moore 13-14). This side of Amelie comes out again later in the film when a merchant treats one of his employees horribly and Amelie takes it upon herself to teach him a lesson. She breaks in and messes with his apartment so he thinks he is going crazy.
Possibly though, one of the darkest times in her childhood was the death of her mother. As they are walking out of church, a women jumps of the roof to commit suicide, and lands on Amandine, killing her (Moore 14). This leaves young Amelie with only her father to care for her. She ends up having to care for him instead of the other way around, especially as she gets older, as he becomes even more withdrawn after the death of Amandine. As an adult she tries to teach and inspire him not to give up on his dreams of traveling. She accomplishes this by stealing the garden gnome from the shrine he made in honor of her mother and sending pictures of it traveling around the world anonymously to him in the mail.
Overall you would have thought that Amelie’s childhood would have made her an unhappy adult, one who had a deep-seated misery, but that is far from what we actually see. Instead, Amelie is bright and joyful. She is full of life and truly an inspiration to make it through the hard times and never let life give you a reason not to have a smile on your face.