If you have enjoyed Amelie, you would have fallen for this movie also directed by Jean Pierre Jeunet. The Delicatessen (see inset) is a black comedy that revolves around a bizarre group of neighbours living in an apartment with a butcher’s store at the first floor. As it turns out, they have collaborated with the butcher to commit murder and feasted like carnivorous in a undefined time of possible famine and poverty. The latest victim to be is the clownish-looking persona who works in the circus and to the dismay of the butcher, happened to become the boyfriend of his introverted daughter. Thus began the long dreadful night of attempted murder and rescue call on both sides, and a third party, the underground vegetarian terrorists organization.
What do I like about the movie? The dark humour and the very touch of humane and inhuman Incorporated into one. On the one hand, the carnivorous act of the tenants seemed unforgivable, on the other hand, it just is so human for people to fight for survival. There are again some scenes that will never be erased from my mind even though it has been some time since I saw it on big screen and later on the small screen over some arts channel. I must confess that I wasn’t really aware of its theme and till now, I wouldn’t dare claim that I have fully understood the film, yet I was truly entertained by its wit and intellect.
I particularly enjoyed the part when the clown and the butcher’s daughter were seated on the bed and practically “testing out” the spring of the beds to a well-paced tempo. This part of the movie were then borrowed by other movies, both in the East and the West, such as a Hong Kong comedy 92黑玫瑰对黑玫瑰. It’s both comical and lyrically depicted with a romantic flavour. Somehow the part on the night of murder reminds me of yet another Hong Kong movie 新龙门客栈 , starring the versatile actress Maggie Cheung and internationally acclaimed director, Hark Tsui. Now, Delicatessen is completed in 1991, and the above-mentioned movies about a year later, so it may not come as a surprise if this French movie has been an inspiration for the movie-makers. In any case, I think what’s interesting is the way the skills are interpreted and transmitted or delivered through the different cultures. This is certainly the bulk of the fun in watching and studying the comparative studies of movies. For one thing, 92黑玫瑰对黑玫瑰 is no black comedy with perhaps a historical background like in the Delicatessen and 新龙门客栈 can never be taken as a comedy at all. Now you can see where the comparative studies is coming from.
Since the last screening of this film on TV, I have been meaning to watch it all over again and what some told me about the relationship between the Broadway musical of the fiddler on the roof and this film has long been forgotten. And I would very much like to find out more about the last part of the film when the lovers were trapped in the bathroom, almost drowned by the rushing tap water. It seemed more like a nightmare than anything else but there must be some symbolism or imagery to that plot, I just need to watch it once again to get some ideas. That’s the fun a great movie can offer to its viewers; it’s timeless theme and art form and definitely, the many possibilities and interpretations available beyond time and space.