The Delightfully Delectable Conception of ‘Delicatessen’

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Delicatessen (1991)
Delicatessen (1991)

Sometimes the hardest thing to look for is a good movie.

When my boyfriend and I are spending weekends and holidays together, we always look for the strangest films, never mainstream, usually deliciously surprising ones, hidden away beneath the plethora of crap Hollywood is making these days. I’m more of a mainstream movie-goer, more so than my boyfriend who would never, in a million years, watch anything that comes with the ‘commercial’ tag, meant for the average type of movie-goers like me. In this new unexplored movie genre, which I recently started to explore, I finally decided to give a go to Delicatessen and I can say it is pure genius.

In this crazy, yet frighteningly symbolic interpretation of the world, Delicatessen gives a story which no one will soon forget, if ever.

Here, I talk about some of the things I really loved about the film. [Proceed with caution, spoilers below]

Julie and Pouison

Julie & Pouison in Delicatessen (1991)
Julie & Pouison in Delicatessen (1991)

Who can forget this timeless clip from the movie?

After Julie helps save Pouison from his ghastly fate, the post-Armeggedon skies clear up and Pousin returns to the normal life he remembered, when he could play his ‘Saw’ and just feel happy. One falls for the character of Pouison very early in the movie and Julie is soon to follow. His optimism in the face of his darkened circumstances and the general misery of his house-mates is like the forgotten feeling of having biscuits to eat with tea.

Clapet

Clapet-Delicatessen
Clapet in Delicatessen (1991)

Even though one comes to hate him, who can deny it is the character of Clapet that makes Delicatessen such a powerful film? He is the embodiment of a great villain; he is greedy, power-hoarding, manipulative and just downright nasty. His eagerness before murdering his victims is horrific, yet he meets a very well-deserved and satisfying end himself.

Post-Apocalypse-Cinematography

This is probably one of the most amazing elements in Delicatessen. Given that it’s 1991 and movies in Hollywood are still undergoing the effects of 80’s cinema, the cinematography and art direction is excellent. The audience is unable to determine what time, what era the film is pictured in; the mysterious fog is still masking every visible sign of the post-apocalyptic world. That just makes it more ethereal, more interesting to watch. I’m a bit of a fan of post-apocalypse scenarios and I would say, this one has probably one of the best futuristic, dreary environments ever pictured in film.

Delicatessen
Post-Apocalyptic Environment in Delicatessen (1991)

Aurore & Darker Themes

Of course, Delicatessen is ultimately a black comedy; the darker themes are ever-present, from cannibalism to accidental amputation. The failed ways in which Aurore tries to put an end to her life and the set-ups she manages to contrive are witty and pitiable, yet the ideas she is using and the artistic symbols used- a splash of red color, the halo of a lamp; they are truly great.

Aurore in Delicatessen (1991)
Aurore in Delicatessen (1991)

Nothing is better than a movie that plays on the solid roles of good and evil and good eventually prevails, although the end is bittersweet and lessons are always learnt. Also, for me, it’s okay to have a little bit of love to fight for, I mean, who doesn’t like to watch the underdogs fight and then prevail in the ultimate battle? As for Delicatessen, I say bring on the popcorn.

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2 thoughts on “The Delightfully Delectable Conception of ‘Delicatessen’”

  1. And if you are really looking for something beyond the crap of Hollywood try the South Korean Cinema. Why, yes they are much more than Gangnam style.

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