Delicatessen: Owning a Delicatessen in a Post-Akokalyptic World

You may recognize the name of our director Jean-Pierre Jeunet from Amelie (2001), a film we all know.

This time, we step into the director’s fairytale world created by his choice of subject matter and narration, as well as technical details such as the use of light and color.

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Delicatessen Movie Review

Delicatessen is translated into our language as Delicatessen. The reason why the Delicatessen is so centralized as to give the film its name is that it is located on the ground floor of the building where the entire film takes place, and it is the shop of Clapet, the butcher who has the power to hold the administrative management of the entire building in his hands, which we can also see as the antagonist of the film.

Clapet, who greets us in the opening scene with his harsh attitude towards his customers, all of whom are residents of the same apartment building, has taken on the task of ensuring the safety of both the residents and his own family in a post apocalyptic world. While working with the responsibility of this task, he is unaware that the order he has established will change when he meets Lousion, a former circus worker who comes to his shop.

The protagonist of our movie enters our story when Lousion is hired to take care of technical works such as repairs, painting and electricity in the apartment. In contrast to Clapet’s harsh attitude towards everyone around him, Lousion begins to win our hearts with his naïve behavior that draws its self-confidence from his dignity from the first day he starts working.

One day, Lousion, who is cleaning the apartment as a routine task, is seen by Clapet’s daughter as he makes bubbles out of foam with the materials in his hand to entertain two children he meets on the stairs. Julia Clapet begins to admire Lousion, a kind soul who, unlike her father’s ambitious nature, takes the time to entertain the children even while doing his job. We can easily say that the first spark between them was ignited here.

When our postman, one of the rare characters in the film other than the apartment dwellers, delivers a delivery for Julie Clapet, we realize that the spark is one-sided and extinguished before we even see its light. But the faint light of our postman who wants to show himself is not seen by Julie Clapet, who has already begun to color her dreams with the sweet smiles of Lousion.

Again, when the postman delivers a package for Julie, the first offer comes from Julie when Lousion takes the package from everyone and gives it to Julie during the commotion of the inhabitants of the apartment building who want to possess the precious thing inside the package. A few hours after they have agreed for evening tea and parted with their embarrassed selves, we find ourselves accompanying their sweet conversation around an elegantly set table.

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But we know that even in fairy tales, there is always someone who will trip over the feet of those who are on the path of eternal happiness on the forest path. This is where Clapet comes in, and no matter how sensitive he is to his daughter, he doesn’t seem to give up on the realization of his true intentions.

With the surrealist reflections in a post apocalyptic time where Clapet disregards his daughter’s happiness for his own purpose, we realize that the existing situation starts to hit our eyes more and more. This is a dark and foggy world where money is no longer exchanged for money, but for wheat; a world structured by the impossibility of including oneself in any other life outside the apartment, and where meat needs are met from people.

Julie now has to find a new way to protect Lousion, who will be killed by Clapet after he has finished his work in the apartment and whose meat he will sell to the residents.
The movie picks up momentum when Julie enlists the help of another underground community, the Troglodytes/Troglodytes [1], who call themselves Troglodytes, to help her kidnap Lousion in exchange for sacks of crops from her father’s shop.

Delicatessen carries us the symbolization of life in a post-apocalyptic world in an apartment building in a surrealist style with elements of black humor. Clapet, the butcher, who is the representation of the element of power, imposes the motto ‘there is an unsafe life outside’ on the residents of the apartment building, representing different segments of the society, and ensures that the residents obey him and that the warehouse behind his deli is filled with the residents’ surplus-value [2] by benefiting from the order he provides through fear.

The inhabitants, who we can see as a representation of society, have accepted to live a half-starved, half-fed life under this fear and pressure, thinking that they should be content with what they are given. In neurotic environments where they try to ensure the continuity of this acceptance, they fail to realize that they are experiencing the distortion of trying to accept a life of alienation [3] both within themselves, with their family members and with the other residents of the apartment building. Their efforts to maintain the integrity of their own psychic apparatus in such a distortion, in which their insight is not formed, allow us to understand what kind of deception they are in as outsider viewers of these efforts.

Madame, who has unsuccessful suicide attempts, has to lead a life trapped in her home with a husband who cannot identify with the difficulty of her mental distress. Her husband’s materialistic attitude, the preservation of her inherited possessions, and a partly aristocratic outlook on life are what keeps her going and she is happy with it. The old man, who has filled his house with snails and frogs on one of the lower floors, is determined to preserve and maintain his situation in his isolated house, where he lives in ankle-deep water flowing from the roof, with the confidence that the snails he has accumulated will not leave him hungry for the rest of his life.

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While we watch the closed worlds of the apartment dwellers, where even the human meat sold is rationed, crops are inadequate, and they have difficulty even paying the rents of the apartments they live in, on the other hand, we see Lousion and Julie’s opposition to becoming an element of the artificial collectivism built out of fear of individualization, which Heidegger defines as the field of them [4]. Our characters who move away from the field of them can be read as representations of the road to Nietzsche’s superhuman [5]. The idea that individuals who are detached from their own nature and alienated from themselves can face their ontological pains and resolve these pains in the nature where they really belong can represent the two ends of the road. But perhaps apartment dwellers need to be enlightened more by such beautiful works in order to see the whole road.

Nobody is completely bad, it depends on the circumstances. Maybe they don’t realize they are doing wrong.


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