French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was born on September 3, 1953. He is best known in North America as the man behind the camera on Audrey Tautou’s huge hit Amélie, winner of four César awards and nominee for five Oscars, among other accolades. He was also Tatou’s director in A Very Long Engagement (Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles) based on the book by Sébastien Japrisot about a young couple wrenched apart by World War I. His work covers a wide variety of themes, from a quirky rom–com like Amélie to dark films like Alien Resurrection and Delicatessen, about a post-apocalyptic world in which the butcher feeds his neighbors with his neighbors. He rejected an offer to direct Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, but does direct occasional TV commercials, including one for Chanel No. 5 starring, of course, Audrey Tautou. His most recent film was Micmacs, a satire about the arms trade, filmed on locations throughout Paris. I love how music is such an important part of his films; Jeunet introduced me to French composer Yann Tiersen who created the music for Amélie.
A common thread through this disparate group of films by Jeunet is the role of imagination. Today’s expression, être terre à terre (etruh tare ah tare) refers to someone who has the opposite personality. It literally means “to be earth to earth” or we’d say down to earth – probably the last trait a director should have.