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Paris seen by Hollywood

October 26, 2012

Paris is the  most often foreign city represented in the Hollywood cinema. We can estimate 800 American films located in Paris. From September 18th till December 15th, at Paris City hall, the exhibition ” Paris seen by Hollywood ” evokes the way the American cinema, over more than a century, has represented the French capital, offering it a place of choice in the Cinema’s history.

What clichés of the city does Hollywood create? They are found in some of the most emblematic places like Place de la Concorde, the Opera, the Alexandre III bridge with the Eiffel Tower, Place Vendome in front of the Ritz, the Tuileries Garden and even the Champs Elyzées …But why has Hollywood invested so much in shooting, or rather creating, Paris in hundreds of films? For the American public, Paris symbolises desire, pleasure, luxury and sophistication. These films in Paris say as much about the French capital as they do about American desire, only a reflection of the Americans’ fantasy.

The exhibition includes many film excerpts, photographs, set models, costumes and posters. It is divided into four sections: the historic Paris of silent film, the sophisticated Paris of romantic comedies, the apogee of Cancan with its crazy and expensive films (for instance Le Moulin Rouge), and the period when Hollywood shot films in Paris. On the one hand, the visitor notices how Paris’s image  became a means to serve the purpose of the great American film industry. Through the exhibition we see the uses of our capital in order to relay the Americanization of the world; indeed Hollywood cinema is a vector for the American values and vision of the world.

On the other hand, these films participated in creating a glamourous and sophisticated image of Paris, an image which tourists today are still looking for when they come to visit the French capital.

Charlotte. G

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