Paris au cinéma
When I was in Paris, being my first time and all, I naturally referenced everything I was seeing to the Paris I had only visited in film. I recognised the Merry Go 'Rounds and Ferris Wheels, the Passport Photo Booths and Metro stations. The cafes, narrow cobblestone roads, the Seine river and the beautiful Parisian architecture and so I bring you my favourite films that are predominantly set in Paris. Sort of as a continuation to my New York City one.
Funny Face (1957) - Stanley Donen
Funny Face has a sense of nostalgia for me. I became utterly obsessed with Audrey Hepburn when I was 13, to then posses almost every Audrey Hepburn film. Funny Face was one of my favourites, partly because at the time I so desperately wanted to work in a fashion magazine. The fashion editor of the magazine, Maggie Prescott at one point exclaims "Give 'em the old Pizzazz". When I decided to make this blog, I naturally decided to use the word 'Pizzazz', in reference to Funny Face. Anyway, this film is the epitome of Hollywood's phase of obsession with French existentialism. Especially with the Parisian philosopher, the jazz cellar, the smoking, the dancing and Audrey's full black attire.
This film is a comprehensive insight into the world of young adults living in Paris in the 1960's. Filled with references from Bessie Smith to Bob Dylan and Sylvie Vartan, as well as political views on the Vietnam war, making it a judicious representation of this time and place. The main character Paul falls in love with Madeline an up and coming pop star (the actress was actually a real life Ye-ye girl), while the camera captures observational style interviews, slightly reminiscent of Andy Warhol's films, as the characters talk about love, life and politics.
Amelie (2001) - Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Paris is envoked in vivid colours and off beat angles. Focused on the fragile and idiosyncratic Amelie, who moves to Paris and becomes a facilitator to others well being. Although she is whimsical and naive living in her own fantasy life, the humour remains malice and sardonic. A contemporary Paris is filled with practical jokes, photo booths, the metro station, merry go rounds, the cafe, a simple love and shyness.
Before Sunset (2004) - Richard Linklater
The conversation between Celine and Jesse continues from Before Sunrise in Before Sunset. The two met on a train to Paris when they were young and spent a day and night together. Now they are older and wiser, the conversation is better, more contemplative. Jesse returns to Paris to promote his novel about his experience with her. The film manages to keep you enticed as you watch the past lovers walking and talking through the city catching up, for almost the entire film. It is completely refreshing to watch. Down narrow streets, in and out of a cafe, through gardens, past shops, onto a river boat, we get to see all of Paris. You can't help but wonder if they missed a lifetime together. UPDATE: I just found out that there is now a third one coming out called Before Midnight. Yay!
Midnight in Paris (2011) - Woody Allen
The film begins with a 3.30 minute long opening sequence of idyllically stunning shots of Paris, from sunny to rainy to night time (similar to Manhattan's opening). The Paris we see flicks between today to one man's yearning for Paris in the roaring 20's. Effortlessly switching between present to past, it is fun to see the renowned writers and artists being played out in a romanticised fantasy. It's a touching, light-hearted and wry film, with an irresolute view of nostalgia that will resonate with you for awhile.