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Simple Pleasures Are Important in Life:Royal Tenenbaums & Amelie

Updated on July 16, 2013


Simplicity comes from being true to oneself. A person is true to himself or herself when he/she lives for happiness of the others. An unselfish person thinks of others before thinking for him or herself. It is not the wealth that gives true happiness. True happiness comes from loving others. Royal Tenenbaums depicts the consequences when simplicity is abandoned for selfishness and ego, while Amelie depicts the pleasures of simplicity. Royal was rich and so was his spouse and yet they were an unhappy couple. Amelie worked as a waitress, underwent heart-breaks and difficult circumstances and yet never wavered from her resolve to bring happiness in others’ life, and therefore her life of simplicity was a happy one.

The Royal Tenenbaums & Amelie


When simplicity is found missing in a person, the consequences can be bad not just for the individual but the entire family. Those that have watched Royal Tenenbaums might recall how his selfishness has deeply impacted not only the lives of his children but also his long suffering spouse. Royal Tenenbaum’s family turns dysfunctional due to ego clash between husband and wife. Poor children bear the brunt of ego, but they are tenacious and do no break down under tension. They are fortunately intelligent and brought up in luxury, but unfortunately in a world that is rather melancholic. Royal (Hackman), their father, a great New York lawyer does bring in money in the early years and Etheline (Huston), their mother ensured a great learning for them in their formative years. The children go on to excel in life. Chas (Stiller) grows up to be a financial genius. Margot (Paltrow) is an award winning play right, and Richie (Luke Wilson), a tennis star. However, Royal’s attitude is anything but simple. He steals Chas’s money and introduces Margot as an adopted daughter whenever he gets an opportunity to do so, “This is my adopted daughter, Margot Tenenbaum”. Eventually, Royal and Etheline part their ways. “I'm sorry for your loss. Your mother was a terribly attractive woman”, he informs the children. Etheline, on the other hand was not happy even with money and luxury surrounding her till she finds true love in Henry Sherman. Royal, later feels the need to connect with his family and fakes terminal illness to gain their sympathy. Richie attempts suicide realizing he has ruined his career for incestuous love with adopted sister. The movie ultimately shows the fake and awkward relationships could have been averted with acceptance of a simple life led in simplicity.

Amelie, playing the role of a waitress in this movie is imaginative, simple and free minded happy girl who takes the trauma and hardships in her stride. She soaks her life in simple pleasures such as skipping stones while walking across St Martin’s Church, and lets her imagination run wild trying to guess how many couples could be experiencing orgasm in Paris at that moment. She enoys simple acts of pleasure like dipping her hand into sacks of grains. Her way of thinking is explained by her expression, “At least you will never be a vegetable – even artichokes have hearts”. She resolves to do good to others and bring happiness in others’ lives when she discovers a box of memorabilibia of a boy, her neighbor that might have grown into a young man, and decides to return it to the rightful owner that she does successfully even as it wasn’t quite easy tracking him down. Upon opening the box, the man moves to tears. She is now firm in resolve to help and do good to others. Amelie’s father is despondent after her mother’s death. Consoling him when he is absent minded, she says, “I had two heart attacks, an abortion, did crack…while I was pregnant. Other than that, I’m fine”. She doesn’t understand her father’s fixation with garden gnome, as she says, “It’s better to help people than garden gnomes”. Amelie does several good deeds as a guardian angel such as escorting a blind man to metro station describing the scene around; persuading his faher to fulfill his dream of world tour; acting as a match maker and helping people around in various ways she can. owever, in her obsession to help others, she is completely forgetful of her own needs. Her own life is lonely that no one but her painter friend Mr. Dufayel takes notice of. She feels hesitant in boldly proclaiming her love for Nino, but Mr Dufayel helps her, “So, my little Amelie, your bones aren’t made of glass. You can take life’s knocks. If you let this chance go by, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So, go ahead, damnit”. Finally, the two begin a relationship.

In the depiction of Amelie, we find a simple girl that lives and believes in simplicity that defines her personal of happiness. However, it is not that she has no troubles and the challenges of life that every one confronts. But her instinctive nature meets the challenges unique to her. Her character teaches us the beauty of simplicity.

The conclusion that we find in the depiction of two contrasting lives echoes clearly and explicitly, that simplicity in life and thought is a blissfully happy state of existence. Royal Tenenbaum and Amelie, the two lead characters in the movies by the same name enter into a web of relationships, but the two have contrasting approaches to those relationships. Royal is too busy with his life and thinks nothing of others. Amelie cares for the others to the point of sacrificing her own interest. Royal loses everything. Amelie gains her world. It is the simplicity or the lack of simplicity that define the central themes in the two movies. Joy and happiness comes with simplicity, while loneliness and despondency comes with lack of simplicity.

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