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"We will always have Paris, " Humphrey Bogart told a tearful Ingrid Bergman in the famous final scene of 'Casablanca'. This premonitory phrase seems to have been the leitmotif of the American film industry, which has exploited the irresistible clichés of the Parisian city to satiety: luxury, eroticism, pleasure and sophistication among others .
In fact, the French capital is, by far, the foreign city that has been portrayed most times by American cinema, although in many cases the recreation of Parisian magic has not passed from simple prefabricated stages. A good example of this is the director Ernst Lubitsch who placed a dozen of his films in the French capital without filming a single plane in it: "There is the Paris of the Paramount, that of the MGM and of course, the real Paris" said with humor the filmmaker
The Aristocats, "everyone wants to be jazz cats …" © DR
The exhibition, ordered chronologically, begins with the first films of the silent film era. The medieval city of Notre Dame, The Three Musketeers or the French Revolution are the most frequently repeated records. From the 20s to the 40s the films portray a refined, mundane and erotic city, where Ernst Lubitsch places his refined sentimental intrigues and sophisticated characters ('Woman for Two', 1933). The 50 will be marked by musicals, technicolor and an obsession with the Belle Époque and the cancan, through films such as' An American in Paris' (1951) by Vicente Minneli, 'Moulin Rouge' by Jonh Houston or 'French Cancan 'by Jean Renoir.
It is from the 50s that American filmmakers begin filming in Paris. 'Charade' (1963) by Stanley Donan and 'Gigi' (1958) by Vicente Minneli are two good examples, not forgetting Black Edwards with 'The Pink Panther'.
A special place in the exhibition is occupied by the figure of Audrey Hepburn, to which the organizers attribute the fair title of 'Miss Paris' . And it is that few actresses have so faithfully represented the so-called "chic Parisian" . His film career is also inextricably linked to this city, of the 27 films he starred in, 8 are set in Paris: 'Sabrina', 'Ariane', 'Charade' or 'How to steal a millionaire millionaire' are unforgettable productions where Hepburn acts as an exception ambassador for the City of Light .
Paris as we had never seen it, 'folded', in 'Inception' © DR
In the 70s, a certain tiredness of the Parisian “cliché” is accused and the number of productions drops considerably to return with renewed forces in the 80s, in which the city becomes the scene of police and action genre films. The icons of pleasure and sophistication remain, but now the productions reflect new nuances, a disturbing, labyrinthine and mysterious city, ultimately more contemporary. 'Frantic' (1987) by Roman Polanski opens this genre followed by many others until the most recent 'The Da Vinci Code' or 'Inception'.
The exhibition brings together many excerpts from films, photographs, costumes, posters … We can enjoy the sketches of the sets of 'An American in Paris' or 'Midnight in Paris' the dresses designed by Huber de Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn or the monumental statues created by decorator Dante Ferreti for 'The invention of Hugo' by Scorsese . In short, "Paris seen by Hollywood" is a journey through more than a century of fertile correspondence between the two cities. Film lovers and fans of the City of Light are in luck.
“Paris seen by Hollywood”
Hôtel de Ville From September 18 to December 15. Free
Open to the public every day except Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in 'An American in Paris' © Warner Bros, TCM