Photo of the Week

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The view from the Théâtre de l"Odéon at dusk. Photo: Françoise Deberdt-Meunier

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Paris Update What’s On

Links to events happening this week in Paris.

Left Bank gallery crawl
> Open house at 50 galleries for Art Saint Germain des Prés. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Gold in galleries

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“Passage” ((2017), by Aude Herlédan. At 1831 Art Gallery during Carré Rive Gauche.

> The Carré Rive Gauche, an association of Left Bank galleries, celebrates its 40th anniversary with an event called ExtrORdinaire, featuring gold in works of art. Various venues, Paris, May 18-June 3.

Literary evening
> The Nuit de la Littérature in Belleville and Ménilmontant presents 20 foreign authors reading their work in French. Various venues, Paris, May 27.

 English-language theater festival
> Paris Fringe returns for its second year of English-language theater and comedy. Various venues, Paris, May 18-28.

Hollywood glam
> Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich and more in classic films from Hollywood's Golden Age for the Glamour cycle. Forum des Images, Paris, May 3-31.

French film with English subtitles
> Lost in Frenchlation shows Etienne Comar’s Django, preceded by a themed cocktail party (€4.50). Studio 28, Paris, May 26.

Virtual reality
> Drop in on Saturday or Sunday from 2pm to 8pm for a free virtual trip at the VR Express festival. Forum des Images, Paris, through June 30.

Dance in historic sites
> Monuments en Mouvement offers free dance performances in national monuments like the Pantheon in Paris, the Abbaye de Cluny and châteaux. Various locations, through Oct. 21.

African culture festival
> The 100% Afriques festival showcases dance, theater, music, fashion, design, art, food and more from all over the continent. La Villette, Paris, through May 28.

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Art - Temporary Exhibitions

 

Montmartre: Décor de Cinéma

Heaven and Hell in a
Hilltop Movie Set

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Jean-Pierre Léaud and Monique Brienne in “Boulevard” (1959), by Julien Duvivier. © Orex Films

“Montmartre is both heaven and hell,” says the narrator in Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1956 film Bob le Flambeur. Some might consider the charming Butte Montmartre, the hill itself, as heaven and the sin city of Pigalle below as hell. Or vice versa.

In any case, filmmakers have taken advantage of both the picturesque and sleazy sides of Paris’s highest peak to make some memorable films set in the “village” that is Montmartre.

The exhibition “Montmartre: Décor de Cinéma” (“Montmartre: A Film Set”) at the Musée de Montmartre takes us on a long stroll up and down the hill for peeps at excerpts and stills from many of the nearly one thousand films that have been made in the area, beginning with Le Rembrandt de la Rue Lepic, made in 1910 by Jean Durand, in which an artist who looks suspiciously like Toulouse-Lautrec sells a “genuine Rembrandt” for 35 francs to a couple of rubes in a Montmartre café. Three years later, the same director shot Onesime Débute au Théâtre, which includes a wild chase scene across the rooftops of Montmartre.

The Sacré-Cœur, completed around the same time as cinema was born, provided directors with a handy shortcut for pinpointing the location of their films, while the steep staircases of Montmartre, with their quaint lampposts, made a dramatic backdrop for action scenes like the young Antoine Doinel and his friend bounding down the steps four by four in François Truffaut’s masterpiece Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows, 1959).

Later Truffaut films, Baisers Volés (Stolen Kisses, 1968) and L’Amour en Fuite (Love on the Run, 1979), also set in Montmartre, feature a grown-up Doinel, the director’s doppelgänger. (Truffaut himself, who died too young, in 1984, rests in peace, we hope, in the Montmartre Cemetery.)

In a film I didn’t know, the black-and-white Juliette ou la Clef des Songes (1951), Marcel Carné used one of the staircases to brilliant effect in a night shot in which a young blonde

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Gérard Philipe and Suzanne Cloutier in Marcel Carné’s “Juliette ou la Clef des Songes.”woman stands like a statue under the lamplight at the top of a staircase watching her fleeing lover, who is lit by another lamp halfway down. This is one of the few scenes for which Carné used a real location; he preferred to build identical copies in the studio, as he did for Hôtel du Nord (1938) and Les Portes de la Nuit (Gates of the Night, 1946), for which he

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From Marcel Carné's “Les Portes de la Nuit.” © Sophie Malexis

re-created the Barbès-Rochechouart Métro station and filmed scenes of shady men selling contraband to passersby. Plus ça change...

The “down-below” worlds of the Moulin Rouge and sexual commerce are represented by such films as Jean Renoir’s French Cancan (1955) and Karim Dridi’s Pigalle (1974).

Other spotlighted films include An American in Paris (1951), in which Gene Kelly plays a dancing and singing artist who sells his paintings on the Place du Tertre, and, of

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Audrey Tautou in the Abbesses Métro station in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's “Amélie.”

course, Amélie (2001), the film that revived the world’s (and especially Americans’) love affair with Montmartre and added a new layer of tourist attractions to the hill that hosted so many bohemian icons. A number of props from the film are on show, including Amélie’s lamp in the form of a pig in a suit.

After seeing the exhibition, you will want to seek out the films you missed and re-see those you have seen and loved. And, of course, you will want to revisit Montmartre, beginning with a stroll through the museum’s beautiful gardens.

Musée de Montmartre: 12, rue Cortot 75018 Paris. Métro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt or Abbesses. Tel.: 01 49 25 89 39. Open daily, 10am-7pm (6pm as of October 1). Admission: €11. Through January 14, 2018. www.museedemontmartre.fr

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More art reviews.

© 2017 Paris Update

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