Before I left for Paris, my brother warned me to be careful. He noticed that every time an American went to Europe in a movie, something went wrong, and Liam Neeson had to be called in for the rescue. My brother didn’t think he was a skilled as Mr. Neeson, but he was willing to come kick in a few doors if I need him to. I didn’t want my brother’s bravery to go to waste, so I decided to tempt fate today by venturing into Paris’ seedy underbelly.
Ok, not really, but I did seek and find filming locations for four of my favorite films. So today, I bring to you a film-centered tour of Paris. Let’s get started. Try to guess the movie before I show you the screenshot of the scenes from the film.
When I arrived back at the office to download these photos off my camera, I discovered these first three shots. Now, I don’t completely remember taking these pictures. I’m not sure how they got here. This might be because they were taken at the beginning of my 13 mile trek, the ensuing miles wiping away all cognizant functions, or it might be because it only happened in my subconscious. Here are the pictures. Guess the film.
Do you know the movie? Granted, the film was a little more action packed than these photos suggest. These will help:
Don’t worry. Mal didn’t kill me.
After waking up, I found myself in an even more fantastic world where photographs came to life and gnomes mysteriously traveled the globe. I was also hungry, so I stopped in this diner for a bite to eat.
Know the film? It’ll probably help you to know I was waited on by this lovely young French woman:
SPOILER ALERT – The next movie is the 1963 Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant espionage thriller Charade. I spoiled that one for you, because I need to discuss these pictures as I show them to you.
Here’s the first picture and the complimentary screen shot of the movie:
In this scene, Audrey Hepburn tells Cary Grant that this is the spot where Gene Kelly danced with Leslie Caron in An American In Paris. That film was the inspiration for the title of this blog, Gene Kelly Was Here, because like Gene Kelly’s character in the movie, I am an American in Paris. I’m even an artist, and Gene Kelly’s character is too (though he’s a painter who spend most of his time dancing, and I’m a writer who can’t put down his camera). As you can see, An American In Paris is kind of an important film for me.
Now, let’s have a look at the scene to which Ms. Hepburn is referring:
Hmm. That doesn’t look like the same spot at all.
That’s because it isn’t. An American in Paris wasn’t really filmed in Paris. It was filmed completely on a sound stage, because Gene Kelly needed greater control of his environment to choreograph the film’s numerous dances. I might have even let it slide if An American In Paris had attempted to recreate the spot where Hepburn and Grant are standing on their soundstage, but the film does not do this. This dance number in An American In Paris simply takes place in a location that looks like it could be on the pathway along the Seine, but it is not specific.
I should add that I think the reference to An American In Paris in Charade is a little in joke from Charade director Stanley Donen. Mr. Donen was Gene Kelly’s long time friend and co-director/co-choreographer. Of course, this does even less to excuse the mistake. Ms. Hepburn should have said, “This is a spot like where Gene Kelly danced in that movie.”
And all of what I just typed would matter if I was really capable of disagreeing with Audrey Hepburn, but I am not. How could one argue with those doe-like eyes? So, in the end, Ms. Hepburn is right, and I am a fool.
Here’s another match-up from Charade. The climax takes place in a courtyard full of columns which our protagonists and antagonists hide behind with their guns drawn. The courtyard is currently undergoing renovation, but here’s the best shot I could get:
Now that I’m done faux-correcting a deceased starlet, we’ll move on.
Our final film is one of my very favorites and the first part of my favorite filmic trilogy since the original Star Wars. I must warn you – some of these shots are a little “extreme,” but I think walking 13 miles across Paris qualifies as an extreme kind of day. (That joke is for you, Dad.) I also wasn’t able to get screenshots to match up with all of these, because the clips I needed from this film were not to be found online.
Further complicating matters is the fact that most of the Parisian scenes in this film either happen at night or at high speeds as a car careens down a narrow flight of stairs.
Still don’t know? Here’s the answer:
Ah yes. My brother’s fears were very nearly realized, but thankfully my walk ended with my identity intact.
Gene Kelly Was Here
These blog posts were all written in the summer of 2011. They chronicle my time in Paris completing an internship as part of my studies at Fuller Seminary. I worked at an art gallery run by missionary-artists ministering to other Parisian artists and got to know the missionary-artists working there.
I am including them here for you to read because I think they work well together as a series. I wrote them as a kind of narrative collage about what it means to be a practicing artist whose first commitment is to Christ and who seeks to share the love of Christ with other artists.