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Film / Delicatessen

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Long Pork, anyone?

Delicatessen is a 1991 French Black Comedy directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic apartment building in a France of an ambiguous time period, and focuses on the tenants of the apartment building and their desperate bids to survive. The protagonist, a former circus artist named Louison, arrives to replace a tenant whose reason for departure is initially unclear. However, it is gradually revealed that the building owner, Clapet, is luring unemployed people to murder them and use them as a source of food for his tenants. Louison's only hope for salvation is Julie, Clapet's daughter who doesn't agree with her father's actions and is also in love with Louison, and a vegetarian rebel group known as the Troglodistes who agree to help Julie rescue Louison in exchange for Clapet's grain stores.


Not to be confused with Delicacy.

Delicatessen provides examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Where the Troglodistes live.
  • Accidental Suicide: Aurore spends the entire movie trying to kill herself, but her attempts are always thwarted leading her to get more and more elaborate with her attempts until she's building full-on Death Traps. Her final one includes a combination of swallowing pills while facing a gun set to go off, while she stands with her neck in a noose, with the gas on and a lit Molotov cocktail just under her. Subverting all expectations, she only dies because her husband, not knowing what she's doing, enters the room and turns on the light, igniting the gas and blowing them both up in the process, making this an Accidental Murder and Accidental Suicide twofer.
  • After the End: Vaguely. Some aspects of society are still operating; there's a TV station on the air, there's electricity, the mail is still running (although the mailman has to use a gun to defend himself while making his rounds), and there's motorized transport so gasoline is still being distributed. But also, the boarding house stands amidst bombed-out ruins, there's a yellow haze over everything, and the food situation is so bad that people are eating each other.
  • Advertisement:
  • Air-Vent Passageway: The Troglodistes use suction cups to climb up the ducts of the apartment, running into some problems as they do so.
  • Almost Kiss: When Louison and Julie are holding the door, and a spear suddenly goes through it, between them.
  • Antenna Adjusting: The TV sets in the apartment rarely get a good signal. When Clapet enacts his plan to kill Louison, he violently shakes the rooftop antenna so that he will come to the roof to fix it. When the antenna gets used as an Improvised Weapon and the two wrestle with it, it's Played for Laughs when Madame Tapioca shouts up directions at them about how to adjust it.
  • Attempted Rape: Postman tries to force himself on Julie, but Louison manages to stop him.
  • Ax-Crazy: Clapet
  • Bittersweet Ending: Clapet's reign of terror may be over, but there's a finite supply of corn and it won't hold out forever. However, the yellow gas is less oppressive in the final scene.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Julie is mostly blind without her glasses, with everything appearing as a blurry haze. This sets up a series of gags when Louison comes over for dinner, with Julie taking off her glasses to look prettier, only to do stuff like miss Louison's cup when she's pouring coffee.
  • Bungled Suicide: Aurore's suicide plans are repeatedly ruined at the last second by some random event. Except for the last one, and its success didn't even have anything to do with her.
  • The Butcher: Clapet's occupation. He's called Le Boucher, and he butchers people.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Julie has a truly disturbing one in which her father strings up Louison and slaughters him like a pig.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The boomerang. It serves first to get back Mademoiselle Plusse's panties, but also at the end to kill Clapet.
  • Color Wash: Almost every frame of the movie is awash in golden light. This is probably an effect of whatever caused the apocalypse.
  • Crapsack World
  • Creative Closing Credits: The original opening credits using household items to display cast and crew names.
  • Dirty Kid: Both of the Tapioca boys. They steal Mme. Plusse's underwear.
  • Dirty Old Man: The Frog Man.
  • Driven to Suicide: Aurore hears voices constantly telling her to kill herself, which drives her to construct ever more complicated ways of doing it, all of which fail.
  • Drowning Pit: Louison and Julie lock themselves in a bathroom, waterproof the room with their clothes, and then break open the pipes. It's a trap for Clapet and the tennants who are trying to break in, but they will drown inside if the door isn't opened in time.
  • Electrified Bathtub: Aurore constructs a rather elaborate way of doing this to commit suicide, lying in the bathtub and attaching the motor of a sewing machine to the doorbell, so that when someone rings the bell the sewing machine pulls a piece of cloth down, with a lamp balanced on the end of it so the lamp is pulled closer to the tub. It doesn't work because Louison bangs the bed in the next room against the wall, causing the lamp to come unplugged and fall into the bath harmlessly.
  • Epic Fail: Aurore's final suicide attempt, in which multiple redundant methods cancel each other out. To add insult to injury, she and her husband subsequently blow themselves up completely by accident.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Clapet loves his daughter and tries the best to make her happy, despite she is greatly against his methods of feeding the tenants.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Played with. Julie takes her glasses off when she first invites Louison to her room for tea. Without them she can't see a thing and ends up overfilling their teacups and breaking a vase. She eventually ditches them for contact lenses. God knows how she got her hands on those.
  • Hearing Voices: Aurore hears voices which tell her to kill herself. They are actually caused by her neighbor Roger.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Clapet is killed by his own throw of the Australian.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Humanitarianism seems to have had an unexpected surge in popularity After the End.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Resounds all through the house.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: After getting the Australian lodged in his forehead when he attempted to throw it at Louison, Clapet staggers for a couple minutes—bewildered but not obviously in pain—asking those present if he has something stuck in his head.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Louison's previous job, which he quit when his chimpanzee partner Dr. Livingstone was eaten.
  • One-Word Title
  • Panty Thief: The two boys steal Mademoiselle Plusse's panties from the clothes line using a fishing hook, much to her consternation.
  • The Place
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The Australian, a bizarrely designed throwing knife that returns to it's thrower without fail.
  • La Résistance: The Troglodistes.
  • Right Through the Wall: The sound of creaking bedsprings travels through the whole apartment. Afterwards Louison is asked to look at the problem and make the springs stop squeaking.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Ensues during the climax.
  • Serendipitous Symphony: Clapet and Mademoiselle Plusse's rhythmically creaking bedsprings cause Julie's cello playing, Madame Tapioca's rug-beating, Robert and Roger's shop work, and Marcel's bicycle pumping to unconsciously synchronize. As the creaking becomes more frantic everybody speeds up with them.
  • Suicide as Comedy: Aurore's repeatedly unsuccessful attempts to kill herself.
  • Suspender Snag: Exploited by Louison when he's painting a hard-to-reach ceiling. He hooks his suspenders onto a nearby pipe to balance himself on top of a ladder (which works great, until the end of the "squeaky bed" scene when he falls on his face).
  • Trash the Set: Large parts of the building are demolished during the climactic fight.
  • Underwater Kiss: Between Julie and Louison when they flood themselves in the bathroom.
  • Video Credits