Jean Pierre Jeunet: Living through the Past, Looking at the Future
At age seventeen, Jean Pierre Jeunet was stung senseless by the magic of cinema. He was entirely captivated by one particular scene’s ability to intertwine image and music. At that moment of fascination, Jeunet realized his destiny to create films (Ezra, 131-132). In his career of filmmaking, Jeunet “has written or cowritten all but one of the screenplays for the films he has directed” (Ezra, 1). Jeunet’s films drop in and out of the past and future while the present poses anxieties.
On September 3, 1953, Jeunet was born in Roanne, France. Born into a modest family, Jeunet’s mother was a schoolteacher, and his father worked for a telephone company. Being an only child until the age of eleven, he relied on his imagination for entertainment. Following in his father’s footsteps, Jeunet worked at the telephone company, a short lived career once his passion for filmmaking intervened. While working at the telephone company, he enrolled in animation school. Lacking any film experience, it was Jeunet’s love for animation that paved the way for his vocation as a director. At an animation festival in the 1970’s, Jeunet met animation artist Marc Caro, his soon to be collaborative partner. Clicking instantly, Jeunet and Caro began to make short films together. After directing various advertisements and brief animated films, Jeunet embarks on his first acclaimed success.
In 1991, Jeunet and Caro’s first feature length film, Delicatessen, put them on the map. Delicatessen “solidified their reputation as filmmakers with a strong visual aesthetic, a predilection for dystopian fantasy, and an off-kilter sense of humor.”(Ezra, 3) Set in post-apocalyptic France, tenants of an apartment building are struggling to survive. The building’s landlord butchers handymen who come to fix his building, and he sells the human meat to his tenants. The only thing keeping the tenants sane is their...