Made in France: Fashion on Film - Alliance Française de Chicago.

Made in France: Fashion on Film - Film retrospective 2015-2016.
Introductory remarks by Vincent Floreani, Consul General of France in Chicago on the occasion of the screening of ’’Midnight in Paris / Minuit à Paris’, by Woody Allen.
Alliance Française de Chicago, July 13, 2016

It’s a great pleasure to be at the Alliance Française, on the eve of the French National Day, Bastille Day.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the Alliance Française. You are doing such a wonderful job in bringing all of us together to learn more about French language and culture.

You are an invaluable partner in various projects we develop together: Bastille Day tomorrow, at Montrose Beach; "A la Carte Chicago" celebrating French food and wines in October; the Festival de la Francophonie; French Innovation Week, and many other exciting events throughout the year.

Tonight, we are closing a series of films on the theme "Made in France: Fashion on Film."

There are plenty of films to choose from, so why choose Midnight in Paris?

An ill-tempered Parisian critic once described this film as "…at the juncture of Mme Tussaud´s wax museum for historical accuracy and of Jurassic Park for the finesse of the characters."

But as the great diplomat Talleyrand used to say "Tout ce qui est excessif est insignificant". Anything excessive is insignificant. So such an extreme criticism of Midnight in Paris does not mean anything.

Actually, the film is good; I would not have chosen it otherwise.

This sentimental comedy is funny and charming: It was very well received by the public at its premiere at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and continues to have high ratings 5 years after.

Let me explain why I think it´s a great movie:

First of all, because of the people behind this wonderful feature:

It’s a film written and directed by Woody Allen, whose unique style has brought innovation to the comedy genre. He directs his films with wit and grace.

Woody Allen, the most European of all American filmmakers, likes France. Midnight in Paris is clearly Allen’s love letter to France, specifically for the city of lights. At the debut of the film in 2011, during a press conference, Allen said that he wanted to “show the city emotionally” and that he “wanted it to be the way [he] saw Paris – Paris through [his] eyes.”

Joining Allen’s expertise is Darius Khondji, an Iranian-French cinematographer. Extraordinarily gifted, Khondji is responsible for the gorgeous shots of Paris, and the magnificent golden colors that remain in your memory well after having watched the film. He worked on three other films shot in Europe with Woody Allen. He was also the cinematographer for the 2012 Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Amour”.

Bringing the story to life was outstanding cast of Midnight in Paris.

As the protagonist Gil, Owen Wilson shines where you wouldn’t expect, with his Texas drawl and his rather-be-surfing or rather-be-wedding-crashing aura. Wilson is also key to the movie´s appeal. He is a credible conduit to convey Woody Allen´s nostalgia and romantic feelings.

I would also mention the actresses who helped make this film a success, including Rachel McAdams as Inez, Marion Cotillard as Adriana, as well as a former first lady, by the name of Carla, who plays a tour guide at Musée Rodin in Paris.

Secondly, this movie is about the Paris we all dream about, the Paris of beautiful monuments and beautiful people, of love and romance.

The movie shows a Paris as a territory of dreams. When wandering in Paris, who does not daydream, along the Seine, in the little medieval streets, in the museums?

In the movie, there are clichés, of course, plenty of them, but they are presented with humor and grace.

Paris appears as a city where life is sweet and has plenty to offer, an enchanting city, in the sun and under the rain.

Paris´ appeal to people is also at the center of the movie. For decades if not centuries, the city has attracted famous people: painters, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and intellectuals.

The list is long: Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter and Josephine Baker, Luis Buñuel and many others.

You might meet them soon! Who knows?

This film is also a reminder of the wealth of songs dedicated to Paris including Cole Porter songs "I Love Paris" and "C´est Magnifique.” Did you know that Porter also wrote a musical, "Paris", for the chanteuse Irene Bordoni in 1928?

Hemingway once wrote, "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

Lastly, the movie uses - like Paris - the power of innovation:

For decades, the artists I mentioned earlier made of Paris a place of cultural and intellectual innovation.

Midnight in Paris contributes to that innovation and reminds us of the magical properties of cinema. The movie creates links between the past and the present.

When visiting Paris today, you will no doubt note that the City of Lights is always reinventing itself; Paris is becoming more and more environmentally conscious and is at the forefront of green-friendly initiatives. Vibrant Paris continues to attract dynamic and promising talents from all over the world in all high-demand sectors and remains an important center of culture and intellect.

On your next visit to Paris, take the time to feel the Paris of the past, like in tonight’s film, while also embracing everything that makes Paris the unique modern city it is today. And before you go, why not come back to the Alliance Française for a French class!

Now, without further ado, I invite you to enjoy Midnight in Paris!

Très bonne soirée à vous !

Last modified on 20/07/2016

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