Jean-Pierre Jeunet

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icon-jorgensen-lectureJorgensen Guest Filmmaker Series

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

  1. Friday, February 13, 2015 3:00 p.m.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Due to a recent scheduling conflict with a new project, Jean-Pierre Jeunet will not be present.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Jean-Pierre was born on September 3, 1953 in Roanne, France (near Lyon). An only child for much of his childhood, he quickly developed his own private world. One day, a friend of his parents brought a Super 8 camera to their home and this opened the door to his future career.


Completely self-taught, he began making animated films with his creative partner, illustrator Marc Caro. These short films, in which they did everything themselves with skill and imagination, began to build a buzz around the two artists and win them many awards in France and abroad.

Their first feature film, Delicatessen, a sharp and very funny comedy, brought an unexpected new momentum to French cinema. The commercial success and numerous prizes earned by Delicatessen allowed Jeunet & Caro to move onto an ambitious project: The City of Lost Children, a dark tale that was incredibly innovative on a technical level, requiring the creation of new software and years of preparation. The film is superb and incredibly poetic. It debuted at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival in 1995, where its “disturbing” character unnerved the public.

Yet, this was the film that caught the attention of Fox, which decided to entrust Jean-Pierre Jeunet with the direction of the fourth opus of Alien: Resurrection.

After this stint in Hollywood, Jean-Pierre Jeunet longed to return to the paved streets of Montmartre in Paris. Moreover, after the Alien: Resurrection “blockbuster”, he wanted to direct a “small personal film with friends”. For years, he had collected gripping little ideas and stories that had touched him. It all came together when he invented the common denominator to all of these stories: a timid and imaginative young woman, determined to embellish the life of those around her. Amélie Poulain was born: the heroine of a film that makes you happy and that fills you with the desire to love. With this film, Jean-Pierre Jeunet achieved what is considered to be one of the most perilous exercises in cinema: to film happiness. Amelie was the most successful French-language movie in the world.

At first, Amelie was written for an actress who left the project shortly before the preparatory stages. Jean-Pierre Jeunet then noticed a young actress who was just entering the scene: Audrey Tautou. He had her try out and, immediately, he knew that it was “her”.

The triumph of the film and the osmosis with Audrey Tautou led him to carry out another project that he had longed to make for 10 years: A Very Long Engagement, the adaptation of the novel by Sebastien Japrisot. With Audrey Tautou, Jean-Pierre Jeunet knew that he had found his “Mathilde”, the young obstinate woman in search of her fiancé in the labyrinth of the Great War. The film met with an enthusiastic welcome, both by the critics and the general public.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet is considered a true artist, while still reaching the public at large. His films offer a perfect quality of execution, a dense and elaborate tale, an abundance of details intertwined with driving force, poetry, emotion and imagination