“Paris sleeping” (“Paris qui dort” in French) is a science fiction film by the French director Rene Clair, released in 1925. It is a black and white silent film that tells the story of a group of people who wake up in Paris after the city is hit by a mysterious freezing ray that immobilizes all the inhabitants, leaving the city completely deserted.
The film was considered a masterpiece of french cinema and science fiction cinema, and was lauded for its innovative staging and use of special effects that were cutting-edge for the time. The film was shot entirely on location in Paris and boasts some of the most striking images of the city, including the most famous monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
The story follows a group of characters who find themselves stranded in the deserted city and try to find a way out of this situation. The film also explores broader themes such as alienation, modernity and technology, which were common themes in the art and culture of the time.
In summary, “Sleeping Paris” is an iconic film that represents an important moment in the cinema history French and science fiction. It is a film that inspired many other filmmakers and is still studied and appreciated today for its creativity and originality.
“Paris sleeping” is a black and white silent film that opens with the arrival of an airplane over Paris. Inside the plane are six people: a pilot, an astronomer, a gangster, a real estate agent, a poet and a beautiful girl.
When the plane lands, they discover that the whole city has been hit by a freezing ray that has immobilized all the inhabitants, leaving the city completely deserted. This mysterious event makes the six passengers on the plane the only mobile humans in the city.
The plot unfolds through their actions and interactions as they try to find a way to leave the city. They realize that they can move freely without any obstacles, through the empty streets, and that they have access to all the city’s services that have remained intact. The six characters decide to explore the deserted city, each with a personal goal: the astronomer wants to see the stars without light pollution, the gangster wants to carry out robberies without obstacles, the real estate agent looks for new business, the poet inspiration to write his operates and the girl enjoys her freedom.
Meanwhile, a group of scientists works to find a way to reverse the effects of the freeze ray and bring the city back to life. After several failed attempts, they finally manage to reverse the effects of the beam and the city returns to normal life. The plot ends with the six characters fleeing the still intact city center before they are discovered.
The film explores themes such as alienation, modernity and technology, common in the art and culture of the time, through the use of innovative special effects for the time, such as the optical make-up technique. The staging is characterized by the beauty and atmosphere of the city of Paris, shown in its unparalleled solitude and majesty.
“Sleeping Paris” features several characters, each with their own personality and motivation, interacting with each other in the context of the deserted city. Below is a list of the main characters:
- The Pilot: he is the man who pilots the plane and one of the six characters who wake up in the deserted city. He is a rational and practical figure, trying to find a solution to get out of the city and return to normal life.
- The Astronomer: he is a scientist with a passion for stars and one of the passengers on the plane. He is thrilled with the situation which allows him to see the night sky without any sources of light pollution.
- The Gangster: is a criminal who travels on the plane as an escorted prisoner. With the city deserted, find an opportunity to pull off grand robbery without hindrance.
- The Realtor: is one of the passengers on the plane and sees the situation as an opportunity to do real estate business with an empty and abandoned city.
- The Poet: is a romantic character who seeks inspiration to write his work. With the city deserted, he finds the inspiration he seeks.
- The girl: she is the only female passenger on the plane and seems to be the only character who doesn’t have a specific motivation. He enjoys his freedom and the beauty of the deserted city.
In addition, there are also the scientist characters who try to reverse the effects of the freezing ray and return the city to normal life.
René Clair also co-wrote the screenplay with Henri Diamant-Berger. The film was produced by the French film company Les Films René Clair.
The film’s budget was relatively low, but the director used innovative techniques for the time, such as the optical make-up technique, to create the special effects and make the deserted city believable.
The film was shot entirely in Paris, with some shots taken at night to avoid too many people. The director also had a difficult time convincing the city authorities to close some streets for filming.
The film’s cast consisted mostly of lesser-known French actors at the time, except for American actress Myla Seller, who played the girl character.
The film premiered on July 6, 1925 at the Cinéma Marivaux in Paris, where it received a good reception from critics and audiences. Today, “Sleeping Paris” is considered one of the most important films in the history of French cinema and an example of technical innovation and cinematic imagination.
Distribution and Reception
“Sleeping Paris” was released in France by the film company Les Films René Clair in 1925, and later also abroad. The film enjoyed limited commercial success, but was critically acclaimed for the director’s technical innovation and creativity.
The film premiered at the Cinéma Marivaux in Paris where it received a good reception from critics and audiences. It was later shown in other cinemas in Paris and other French cities.
The film was also selected to be presented at the 3rd Cannes Film Festival in 1950, where it was screened in the “Cinema Classics” section alongside other French and international films.
“Sleeping Paris” was considered an innovative film for its time due to the special effects and cinematographic imagination used by director René Clair. The film was praised for its ability to create a feeling of foreboding and mystery in the empty city, even though cinematic techniques were still under development.
Today, “Sleeping Paris” is considered a classic of French cinema and one of the most important films in the history of cinema due to its technical innovation and the director’s creativity.
The film uses several innovative cinematic techniques for the time, such as the optical make-up technique, to create the special effects and make the deserted city believable.
The film is characterized by a strong use of symbols and metaphors to represent the loneliness and isolation of the characters in the empty city. The night shots help to create an atmosphere of unease and mystery, while the choice of the city of Paris as a backdrop helps to create an evocative and romantic image of the city.
The cinematography of the film was handled by Georges Périnal, who used the technique of chiaroscuro to create effects of light and shadow which help to create an atmosphere of disquiet and mystery. The soundtrack, on the other hand, was composed by Darius Milhaud, who created innovative and modern music for the time, using instruments such as the saxophone and piano.
Furthermore, “Sleeping Paris” is characterized by a strong sense of humor and irony, which contributes to making the film light and funny despite its unsettling atmosphere.
“Sleeping Paris” is a film that stands out for its creativity and technical innovation, using advanced cinematographic techniques for the time to create an atmosphere of mystery and disquiet in the empty city.
René Clair was a French director and screenwriter born November 11, 1898 in Paris and died March 15, 1981 in Neuilly-sur-Seine. He is considered one of the greatest directors of 20th century French cinema and one of the pioneers of sound cinema.
After studying literature and philosophy at the University of Paris, Clair entered the film business in the 1920s, becoming one of the most innovative directors of the time. His first feature film, “Entr’acte” (1924), made together with Francis Picabia, is considered a masterpiece of cinematic surrealism.
With her next film, “Sleeping Paris” (1925), Clair achieved great success with critics and audiences. The film used innovative cinematic techniques for the time, such as the optical make-up technique, to create the special effects and make the deserted city believable.
In the 1930s, Clair established himself as one of the most important directors of French sound cinema, directing films such as “La Kermesse héroïque” (1935) and “Four in Paradise” (1938), which achieved great critical and commercial success .
After World War II, Clair moved to the United States, where he worked as a director and screenwriter for the major Hollywood studios, directing films such as “And Then There Were None” (1945) and “The Glass Wall” (1949). Returning to France in the 1950s, he continued to direct films into the late 1960s.
René Clair was a very influential director in the world of cinema, thanks to his creativity, his technical innovation and his ability to create dreamlike and suggestive atmospheres in his films.