Montmartre, France—August 30, 1997—September 28, 1997
We Heart Montmartre
The main plot of Amélie has a very specific setting and timeline—the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris, from the moment of Princess Diana's death (which actually occurred on August 31). Every location Amélie visits—from the fun park to the café and even the subway—is bright and colorful and makes you want to visit immediately. Being critics, some critics disagree, saying the film is "filled with hackneyed images of eternal 'Frenchness'" (source). Whatever. We still want to visit.
Part of the appeal of the setting is its authenticity. The Café des 2 Moulins is a real café, and you can read its Yelp reviews here. You can even ride a carousel and visit Collignon's grocery stand. Amélie also spends a lot of time in her charming little apartment, which as far as we know isn't actually affordable on her waitress salary, but let's not kill the fantasy, okay?
It's amazing that Amélie takes place only over the course of a month. So much happens, and so many people's lives change in that short period of time, but when you stop and think about it, it is a very long time, because most of the people have been stuck in the same rut for years and years and years.
The overall irony is that it takes a tragedy like the death of Princess Diana, known, like Amélie, as a humanitarian, to bring about all this change, and the vast majority of these people have no idea that if Diana had lived, their lives would probably never have changed. It's chaos theory in motion, but for the forces of good.