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Hugo Cabret

"Place Edouard in Paris"

Where Hugo Cabret was Shot

Hugo Cabret, Martin Scorsese’s latest film, is set in Paris, but nearly the entire movie was shot on a studio stage, in the spirit of George Méliès, one might say, on whose life story much of the film is based. (The silent movie pioneer, a master of the “artificial”, the fantastic and surreal, really did operate a toy shop in the Gare de Montparnasse for several years after WWI.)

The puzzle is not so much why Scorsese preferred to recreate 1920s Paris in a studio but why he bothered to shoot on location at all, and then only for scenes that are of secondary importance to the narrative and that do not enrich or embroider the film’s visual impact in any meaningful way.

The two scenes in question were shot on Place Edouard VII – we can clearly see the king’s statue behind the two youthful protagonists – and, just fifty metres away, on Square de l’Opéra Louis Jouvet where Hugo and Isabelle sneak into a cinema.

Scorsese could easily enough have done for these two scenes what he did for all the others: shoot them on a . . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: Hugo Cabret

The Tourist

"Cafe Nemur in Paris"

Where The Tourist was Shot

For most of The Tourist’s 103 minutes, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck bravely struggles to commandeer the disparate elements of the film – the reworked script, the leading couple with little or no obvious personal chemistry, the glamorous locations – into a coherent whole.

I leave it to you to judge how well he ultimately succeeds, but one thing is for sure: the walk through Paris on which Angelina Jolie takes us at the beginning of the film, trying to shake off the police, has been very well laid out and does not violate the city’s geography.

This may be damning with faint praise, but praise it most certainly is. After all, everybody who is familiar with Paris knows films where people whose apartment has a view on the Eiffel Tower slip into their morning gown…

– Cut! –

…to buy a pair of croissants in a bakery underneath the Sacre Coeur (3 miles to the north).

Whatever you can say about The Tourist, no topographical logic was violated in the making of this film. After all, it is at least conceivable that a lady with an apartment at the Place de Victoire …

… would take her . . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: The Tourist

More Midnight in Paris

"The Eiffel Tower at night seen from the Champ de Mars"

This Guest Review is brought to you by Cheap Flights UK
There are hundreds of movies about Paris, so you may think that the subject has been overdone. But as the end of the year approaches an interesting and unusual take on the city has been presented in cinematic form. You will have heard of it – “Midnight in Paris” is the darling of the reviews and has been heralded by the press and the public as a masterpiece.

The beginning of the film is not unusual. The main character, Gil, catches a flight to Paris with his fiancée, Inez, and her parents.

The disenchanted writer spends the start of his holiday listening to Inez’s old friend Paul, who is constantly contradicting people, and generally being a pain.

Paris loses its appeal, until….suddenly his holiday is improved when at stroke of midnight he is transported back into the 1920s, where he meets a plethora of celebrities starting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein.

Woody Allen treats these celebrity characters with the respect they deserve and the film is one of the best of its kind. The story line may seem nonsensical, but with the light . . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: More Midnight in Paris

A Door To A Surreal Belle de Jour

"Doorway at Ave. de Messine in Paris"

The door of the building where the marital home of Catherine Deneuve’s character in Luis Bunuel’s Belle de Jour was supposed to be. A magnificently ornate but ultimately soulless piece of haut-bourgeois architecture on the Ave. de Messine near the . . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: A Door To A Surreal Belle de Jour

The Sacre Coeur: A Paris Signature

"The Sacre Coeur on the hill of Montmartre"

The Sacre Coeur

Contrary to what many visitors believe, the Sacre Coeur is not very old. It was built after the 19th century French Cold Civil War. There are buildings in the United States that are far older than this Parisian landmark.

It is perched on a hill in Montmartre not unlike a garrison keeping an eye  on all below it.

Its highest point is higher than the highest point of the Eiffel Tower.

Thus has it imposed itself as a symbol of Paris as much as La Dame de Fer and the Arc de Triomphe, always used for an establishing shot by every movie producer as the shortest way to tell viewers where the story . . . → Read More About Hollywood’s Love Affair with Paris: The Sacre Coeur: A Paris Signature