A Lone Wirbelwind - In Respect to J.P. Jeunet
So here’s a diorama where I throw convention out the window, grab a huge handful of artistic license and run. This diorama takes place in a remote French roadside “village” in 1944.
Prelude: After a fierce nighttime anti-aircraft battle, a lone Wirbelwind lost its way after shedding its’ ammo and dodging Allied bombs. They travelled slowly through a dark moonless night. At dawn, far from enemy lines, lost, and nearly out of gas, they miraculously hooked up with a German reconnaissance unit and their Sd. Kfz. 222. This squad said they were en route towards a remote French village and designated outpost where they could hopefully relax and resupply.
Earlier that same day before the Wirbelwind’s dilemma, a couple of American G.I.’s, also lost and hungry, ended up at the same French village. They were taken in, taken care of (despite the butcher’s proclivities) fed (don’t ask about the protein) and protected. But early the next morning, the village was awakened by the rumble of heavy machinery coming their way. Not surprisingly, the war was coming to the village again; after all, they still had plenty of food, wine and barrels of gasoline left there by a previous supply convoy. The American soldiers got up, readied their gear and were led by the butcher’s daughter to a cellar and their escape route: a trap door that led into the sewer system. They were told to follow the tunnel south, underneath the road, until they reached the canal. There would be a dock nearby and tied to the dock, a small fishing boat named Amelie. “Use it if you can”, she said, and ran back up the cellar stairs.
Present: The village inhabitants take on the usual subservient role towards the Germans. There are only six soldiers, so it is no hardship to hand over food and wine and act like all is normal. After all, the Germans are tired and busy refueling and getting their vehicles ready for the next engagement. The French populace do their best to distract the Germans from the Americans hiding underneath the canal’s embankments. And if the Germans stay the night, the butcher might get some new meat to cure.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet is one of my favorite directors, and I decided to set a “common” WWII scenario in the midst of a J.P. Jeunet “fantasy set”. I wanted to take as much material from his movies that “fit” and incorporate them into the diorama without being overt. If viewers know of his work, then many details will be readily noticed (and hopefully appreciated) but if not, I didn’t want it to detract or be confusing. I used the ever identifiable “Delicatessen” sign as the most blatant detail that something “Jeunet” is going on here. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get adequate photos of each room’s details when taken from “outside”. Since inside the separate rooms is where I most anecdotally represented his movies, I cheated and included a lot of “behind the scenes” photos. So you have to use your imagination while looking at the “behind the scenes” photos and picture the room from the window side. Works well in person, the hazy glass and hidden details to scrutinize the secrets within. Those 3D details are always a major difficulty when depicting dioramas within a 2D world. Outside of the building, there are also plenty of Jeunet references and mischievous signs of his influence.