Studies on Paris                           a poetic promenade in the City of Lights

The silent film concerts of the Prima Vista Quartet

 

A visual and musical poem

the film

director  André Sauvage

year  1928

duration  1h23

composer  Baudime Jam (2012)

Considered the masterpiece of André Sauvage, Studies on Paris carries the urban poetry of the Surrealists (whom the filmmaker was a close friend) and captures the people and the sights of Paris with an extraordinary visual sensibility. Using his camera as the preferred instrument of his artistic conscience, Sauvage makes a pictorial demonstration not without a sense of humor. Presented as a series of "studies" such as a painter would consider, the film is a poetic tour of landmarks and neighborhoods of the capital. Both marginal and monumental, naturalistic and modernist, Studies on Paris evokes the same aesthetic shock as Ruttmann’s Berlin, Symphony of a Great City or of Strand and Sheeler’s Manhatta.

Paris in the late 1920s was a city with many faces. Many channels reach the Seine where thousands of workers bustle about. From the Opera to Montmartre, the crossing of the capital reveals a changing crowd. The walk continues along the boulevards that border fortifications and again over water between the islands of Paris, ending in the heart of the Latin Quarter...


But beyond the testimony of an aesthetic artist's eye on a city that a century of distance makes us appear with an aura of nostalgia, there is the timeless relevance of his observation of men, women and children who pass in front of his camera. Paris is above all a human city: people work tirelessly on the river banks and in the streets, they travel as in a hive (modernity and pervasiveness of transportation) they play (Sauvage focuses on children with a tender look), they loaf around (the tramp character is a leitmotif of the film), they meet with neighbors, they gather in the austere and immutable sanctuaries of faith, they come across artists (painters, but also musicians and actors behind the walls of the Opera and theaters), and couples in love are made and unmade over a secret map of intertwined paths.


An urban portrait of unprecedented scale, «Studies on Paris» is a lyrical tour of Roaring Twenties Paris. A pioneer of documentary art, André Sauvage captures the vibrant city with extraordinary visual sensitivity, the major landmarks and working-class neighborhoods of a city in flux.


To mark the DVD release of the restored version of this film, Carlotta Films commissioned Baudime Jam and the Prima Vista Quartet the creation of an original score. For his first foray into the specific genre of documentary, the composer has created a musical world of poetry imbued with a "French" touch, nostalgy, but also rhythms reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties. The sweet monotony of locks, the excitement of the grand boulevards, the melancholy waste grounds, the elegance of uptown areas, the mystery of underground channels, the incessant ballet of trains, subways and cars, the peaceful path of the river Seine, the rich profusion of Arts, the imposing and severe presence of Notre-Dame, and the tender magic of childhood: all these nuances are found over a musical score that serves faithfully the film by highlighting it with innate poetic sense.


The DVD has been released on October 10, 2012. The film is also available as Digital Cinema Package (DCP).


The score for «Studies on Paris» has been composed from July 8 to 21, 2012, and recorded on July 27 and 28, 2012. It was first performed in Amiens, in the presence of André Sauvage family, and then in Paris (Le Balzac), Firenze (Festival di Populi), and London, at the Barbican (French Film Festival).

 

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