Film Fever: Ocean Man, The Emperor’s New Clothes and the Celebration of Life


Conor Power casts a jaundiced eye on a weekend of film awards in France and the USA where the Emperor’s New Clothes were feted on one side of the Atlantic while in France, there was a truer reflection of a celebration of real cinema

If you had never seen a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film or the American ’80s romantic comedies “Splash” or “Cocoon” or if you’d never seen the music video “Ocean Man” by rock group Ween, then you might just be utterly charmed by the winner of this year’s Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director “The Shape of Water”.

What is mystifying is just how charmed film critics have been by Guillermo del Toro’s film that is so full of copycat scenes and styles and cardboard-cut-out stock characters that it is very difficult to see the wood for the clump of trees.

Jeunet himself apparently challenged Guillermo over the most inspired parts of his film – particularly the scene where two characters from “The Shape of Water” (played by Richard Jenkins and Sally Hawkins) sit on the bed with the old television to the side and do a little foot shuffle dance. This, he said, was clearly heavily inspired by a scene from his 1991 film “Delicatessen”.

The entire film, however, has several elements of “Amelie” – Jeunet’s film from 2001. In an interview with Ouest-France published on the 6th of February last, he says that before seeing the film, he’d been warned by friends that there were very notable similarities with Amelie: “There is a bit at the beginning, sure enough, with the painter, the apartment and the young shy girl… but it’s especially ‘Delicatessen’ (where the similarities lie)”.

Amongst the ideas copied from ‘Delicatessen’ is a scene where two characters fill up the bathroom entirely with water. “What’s irritating as well is that it’s not even useful in the context of the story of ‘The Shape of Water’. It’s a bit gratuitous, if you like. Going off ruining someone else’s scene just for that is a shame. ‘Delicatessen’ is already old and it’s part of history now. So under that pretext, you can use and recycle it. Nowadays, I don’t fret about that kind of thing too much because it’s better to be ripped off than ignored. I’m not even going to attack him for plagiarism, it’s not my thing. But Guillermo has enough talent to not be doing this.”

Jeunet didn’t have any feature film projects to submit to the César awards this year (his last film was an American one 3 years ago). There was, however, plenty of original quality on show and the two big winners of the night were Robin Campillo’s “120 Beats per Minute” and Albert Dupontel’s “See You up There” (Au-Revoir là-Haut).

‘120 Battements par Minute’ Trailer

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‘Au-Revoir là-Haut’ Trailer

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On a glittering night at the Salle Pleyel concert hall in Paris, Campillo’s film came away with 6 awards, including Best Film, while Dupontel’s film got 5, including that of Best Director. The full list of awards handed out at the 43rd César Awards Ceremony is…

Best Film : 120 Battements par minute (120 Beats per Minute)
Best Actress : Jeanne Balibar (Barbara)
Best Actor : Swann Arlaud (Petit Paysan/ Bloody Milk)
Best Supporting Actress : Sara Giraudeau (Petit Paysan /Bloody Milk)
Best Supporting Actor : Antoine Reinartz (120 Battements par minute)
Best Female Newcomer : Camélia Jordana (Le Brio)
Best Male Newcomer : Nauel Pérez Biscayart (120 battements par minute)
Best Director : Au Revoir là-haut (See you up Here)
Best Foreign Film : Loveless (Russia)
Best Debut Film : Petit Paysan (Bloody Milk)
Best Original Screenplay : 120 Battements par minute
Best Adapted Screenplay : Au Revoir là-haut
Best Original Music : 120 Battements par minute
Best Sound : Barbara
Best Animation Film : Le Grand méchant renard et autres contes (The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales)
Best Animation Short : Pépé le Morse (Grandpa Walrus)
Best Documentary : I am not your negro
Best Short Film : Les Bigorneaux (The Periwinkles)
Best Editing : 120 Battements par minute
Best Cinematography : Au Revoir là-haut
Best Set Design : Au Revoir là-haut
Best Costumes : Au Revoir là-haut
A special public-choice César was awarded to Dany Boon for the comedy film Raid Dingue (R.A.I.D. Special Unit)
César of Honour : Penélope Cruz

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