Loving Vincent, Enough of Barbara, Post Car Paris
The film “Loving Vincent” is titled “La Passion Van Gogh” in France. How movie titles are translated or changed from English to French is, in itself, a wondrous topic. This one makes some sense, while often, they do not. Nonetheless, the film was originally made in English, but like most animated films in France, it’s shown here more in V.F. (Version Française) than in V.O. (Version Originale). One can surmise that because most animated films are for children, that the dubbed French versions would have a bigger audience. Of course, I don’t have a clue if this is true, but it seems logical.
We saw it in French and it didn’t matter if we didn’t understand every word, since the true thrills of the film are the visuals — as it’s the first ever fully painted animated feature film using 65,000 frames, each an oil painting on canvas, using the same technique as Van Gogh did, created by a team of 115 painters. Believe it or not, the development of the film was funded by the Polish Film Institute, and partially through a Kickstarter campaign.
According to the official website, they “painted the first frame as a full painting on canvas board, and then painted over that painting for each frame until the last frame of the shot.” There were 853 shots, so at the end of the process they have 853 oil paintings on canvas that appear in the film. There were 90 paintings in advance of that just for design purposes. Two hundred of all of these will be made available for sale over the coming years, with some 29 which were available on this past July 29th to mark the anniversary of Van Gogh’s death…at €1,000 each.
The story questions the circumstances of Van Gogh’s death — suicide or manslaughter by a young man with a gun who taunted him? On the young man’s deathbed, he confirmed that Van Gogh had stolen his gun to commit suicide, even though he was known to be in good spirits at that time in Auvers-sur-Oise. One of the things that is so amazing about the artist who is considered the “father of modern painting” is that in the eight years of painting, during which we painted 800 canvases, he never sold a single one to the public. And now, thanks to “Loving Vincent,” there are 853 oil paintings by other artists created to allow the entire world to immortalize and honor him.
I’ve always loved Vincent, from the moment I saw his paintings in real life at the Musée d’Orsay one of my first times in Paris. The museum owns 25 of his paintings including Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles, the Church at Auver-sur-Oise and the Portrait of Doctor Gachet. The paintings and the characters come to life in Loving Vincent. Douglas Booth plays the young detective, Armand Roulin, who is the eldest son of Vincent’s dear friend and postman, Joseph Roulin. Armand, in his dashing yellow blazer, is the kind of guy one can’t help, but fall in love with…even if only a character in a painting.
ENOUGH OF BARBARA
I had no idea who “Barbara” was, but she made quite an impression on France, so much so that the Philharmonie de Paris has devoted a huge exhibition in her honor on the 20th anniversary of her death (November 24, 1997). The illustrious singer/songwriter was born in Paris to a Jewish family in 1930 as Monique Serf. Her father sexually abused her at the age of ten and later abandoned the family. During the war, she went into hiding, and didn’t discover her musical talents until the war ended. She subsequently took the stage name Barbara from her Russian grandmother, Varvara Brodsky, and her popularity as a singer rose, having sold over a million copies of her song “L’Aigle Noir” in just 12 hours.
Almost always dressed in black, with short chic hair on a tall, elegant frame with sculpted features, Barbara was drenched in melancholy. She’s an icon in French musical history, much like Edith Piaf, although I doubt most Americans are as familiar with her. I certainly wasn’t. She sang the songs of Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens, but later began to write her own “petits zinzins.” The exhibition is vast with photos, videos, hand-written notes, letters, drawings and innumerable documents conserved by people in her inner circle, never before publicly released. By the time we were two-thirds of the way through it, I had had enough of Barbara. (No offense.)
POST CARD PARIS OR POST CAR PARIS?
If you’ve taken a taxi or an Uber in Paris in the last few months, or driven with someone who owns a car in the City of Light, then you may have noticed the drivers complaining about the increased traffic. We have Socialist Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to thank for that in her effort to reduce pollution and ban all petrol cars from the city by 2030.
Earlier in the month, she experimented with the idea by making Paris car-free for one day — on a Sunday. Of course, Sunday is when there are the least amount of problems to be expected, since most people aren’t working and don’t have as much need of their vehicles — particularly those who work outside the city center and need their vehicles to earn a living. Only taxis, buses and emergency or social services vehicles were allowed to be on the roads during the car-free day. Residents with emergencies were allowed, but a 30 kilometer per hour limit was imposed. Fines were authorized for up to €135 for offenders.
Now the plan is to ban all diesel-fueled cars by 2024 and all petrol-fueled cars by 2030. Cars have already been banned from driving along the “berges de Seine,” meaning that more than 43,000 cars that once drove along the quays are now stuck in traffic on the upper roads. According to AirParif, a non-profit organization accredited by the Ministry of Environment to monitor the air quality in Paris and in the Ile de France region, the pollution from the traffic along the Seine has been displaced in the city to the upper level and worse as a result.
See the AirParif report: “The blue areas show an overall improvement in air quality along the riverbanks (up to -25%): the total suppression of two lanes on the low platforms offsets the increases on the upper level.”
In addition, construction is happening all over the city in an effort to improve public transport and offer safer paths for non-polluting vehicles (bike lanes, etc.), making traffic at present even more unbearable, and increasing pollution even further. Just hop any bus (if you can find the displaced bus stop), or any taxi or chauffered vehicle, to find out that you might as well be hoofin’ it instead — it’s sure to be faster…but be sure to wear your face mask so you don’t blacken your lungs in the process.
The media is questioning the reality of Madame Hidalgo’s goals and I don’t blame them. I’m a pedestrian and totally in favor of reducing cars, traffic and pollution, but how will a major international city such as Paris, the most visited city in the world, cope with pretending it’s a village? My personal viewpoint is that the Socialist mayor can only see one side of her proverbial coin and that in this case, as is with many of her policies, do more to create a lose-lose than a win-win situation for Parisians.
For more information, see what Florence Villeminot has to say in her reports on France24.com and another report from AirParif.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. Don’t miss the next Après Midi, November 14, with Antonio Meza. Antonio will share his experience as a storyteller and will facilitate an interactive workshop to help people connect with their own “Paris story” and with each other. Deatails on our Après Midi page. Make your plans now to be there!