Paris vu Par DVD
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Produced in 1964
Main Language - French with English subtitles
Michael Brooke tastes the air of sixties Paris with this nouvelle vague portmanteau film, featuring contributions from Godard, Chabrol and Rohmer.
Portmanteau films weren’t unique to the 1960s, but that decade seemed to produce the majority. Most of them were wildly uneven, but thanks to the firm hand of producer Barbet Schroeder, the rarely-screened Paris vu Par... is one of the better examples, not least for its overall coherence.
Six directors contribute a short film, each named after and set in a particular part of the French capital. Two are romantic jeux d’esprit, such as Jean-Luc Godard’s farcical tale of two intimate telegrams that a two-timing Montparnasse-Levallois girl mixes up at the sending stage, or Jean Douchet’s American student successively ensnared by two men, both of whom apparently own the same Saint Germain-des-Pres flat. Small wonder that some prefer the oldest profession, as depicted by Jean-Daniel Pollet via a lengthy encounter between a cynical Rue Saint-Denis prostitute and her painfully shy client, who is persuaded to cook a meal for her before they get down to business.
The other three stories have a darker tone. As critics, Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol were renowned Hitchcock experts, and the Master’s fingerprints are all over their gleefully macabre contributions. Rohmer’s fastidious men’s outfitter has to modify his daily routine to avoid the Place de l’Étoile because he thinks he might accidentally have committed manslaughter there, while Chabrol and his real-life wife Stéphane Audran play a constantly bickering couple whose son takes drastic steps to shut them out of his life in a fashion directly inspired by the name of the upmarket suburb of La Muette. But perhaps the most impressive achievement is documentarist Jean Rouch’s virtuoso single-take study of a woman moving from a breakfast argument with her boyfriend to a tragically short-lived dalliance with a stranger at the Gare du Nord.
Shot in highly recognisable locations on hand-held colour 16mm (by such luminaries as Nestor Almendros and direct cinema pioneer Albert Maysles), the films have a delightfully spontaneous, caught-on-the-wing feel, and those who know the city well have numerous additional treats in store thanks to countless tiny but telling local details – for instance the peculiarly Parisian pneumatic telegram.
Michael Brooke on 20th October 2009
Author of 135 reviews
Six short nouvelle vague films about Paris by six French directors, including Godard, Chabrol, Rohmer and Rouch. Godard's film concerns a girl who is writing to her two lovers, Chabrol turns in a sketch about a quarreling couple while Rohmer offers a tale about a salesman who fears he has killed a tramp.
Features La Muette (Chabrol), Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Douchet), Montparnasse-Levallois (Godard), Rue Saint-Denis (Pollet), Place de l'Étoile (Rohmer), and Gare du Nord (Rouch).
Publisher: Artificial Eye
Length: 95 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 widescreen
Cat No: ART458DVD
Format: DVD Colour
Various , 2006
20 directors, 20 short films, 20 vignettes about life and love in one of the greatest cities on e...