Monday, December 3, 2012

Cinema in Paris

Our first day in Paris we stumbled upon a shop selling relics from the earliest day of cinema. This is stuff I saw in museums in New York, and here it was crammed into a tiny shop, stacked haphazardly and priced for negotiation (although still out of my price range, unfortunately). I could have spent an entire day in there.

Visiting the Cinémathèque Française was the highlight of the trip for me (and I think for Taso as well). We saw Godard's Le Petit Soldat, which was super fun, despite our ineptitude at French and the lack of English subtitles, but the thrill was really in the way Parisians experience cinema. It was like a beautiful, most welcome step back in time. The house was packed and everyone read their newspapers quietly before the show. Newspaper reading has become romantic nostalgia to me -- like slow dancing and having deep discussions face to face with friends. It just doesn't really happen anymore in the world I'm used to, yet it made me feel comforted and at home. The presentation was pristine, from the perfectly letterboxed screen, to the gradient dimmed lighting, the sound and picture quality, and the silent, engaged crowd. After the film an academic spoke for 45 mins straight and NOT. A SOUL. MOVED. Everyone sat silently and respectfully through his entire lecture and, at the end, asked questions that seemed to be insightful and well-received. I have literally never seen this happen in an American cinema, not even Film Forum. It was beautiful and we ate it up despite, again, having a very limited knowledge of French. I wish I could see every film there for the rest of my life, or at least that I could have that experience here.

The room we were in is named after Henri Langlois, arguably the father of film archiving and preservation. You should learn about him, if you're interested in cinema. He's no Ernest Lindgren, but he's incredibly important and had an exciting life! Taso spent a lot of time and money at the Librarie -- the bookstore. Cinema book collecting is his thing, and he was in heaven. I can't say enough about what a perfect space the Cinémathèque is. There is so much American theaters could learn from it.

We also stopped by the Paris Home Movie Day. It was exactly like what I'm sure every Home Movie Day in the world is like. Even the archivists looked the same as the ones in Brooklyn. The films were much more interesting, and there seemed to be much more support and involvement from the community. Must be nice! Pictures of the somewhat unorthodox Home Movie Day in Southampton that I took part in a couple years ago can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. oh wowowow. reading the papers? what kind of amazing people are these. gosh.