Sleeping Through the Night at the Oscars
Like most of us in Paris, I slept through the Academy Awards. Once upon a time, living in Los Angeles, I would have attended a party that started at 6 p.m. and ended when it was all over — usually close to midnight. We would eat, drink, discuss our favorite films and be incessantly catty about what the women (and sometimes, the men, too) were wearing.
It was fun. We knew all the films — because that’s what one does when living in Los Angeles — see all the films. This year I tried to see all the films, too. It’s not always easy — they don’t ALL make it to the Parisian silver screen, but the ‘big ones’ do, of course.
By now you all already know that Argo took best picture — “a dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.” In 1979 the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was stormed by Islamic militants who captured 52 American diplomatic personnel and held them hostage for 444 days.
I was in Israel at the time studying Hebrew in what is known as an “ulpan” (language classes) near the campus of Tel Aviv University in Ramat Aviv. In my class was an older Iranian gentleman and his lovely wife who, by coincidence, was the contractor who built the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and knew every inch of the building. Who would have known then that 34 years later, we’d be watching a reenactment of the event or that its portrayal would be awarded with such a high honor?
I think everyone expected Daniel Day Lewis to take best actor as Lincoln. Like Meryl Streep was Julia Child in “Julie & Julia,” Lewis WAS Lincoln. But while Lewis was amazing as everyone expected him to be, Sally Field (for me) stole the show. It was disappointing that she didn’t walk away with Best Actress in a Supporting Role as Mary Todd Lincoln. To this day it’s hard not to think of her as “The Flying Nun” from the sitcom that aired 83 episodes in the late ’60s, but she continually proves she has what it takes to be anyone she wants to be.
Instead, Anne Hathaway walked away with that Oscar as Fantine, a young mother who loses her job in a factory and struggles to find money to support her daughter in Les Miserables. This was one film I didn’t want to see — too much misery in 19th-century France! Yes, I know you will all disagree with me. But going into the gutters of Paris in the early 1800s is simply not my “tasse de thé.”
Coincidentally, Victor Hugo’s novel may not have been written with the American Civil War in mind, but it was reported that soldiers took the novel with them into battle. “James A. Black, an assistant surgeon with the 49th Illinois infantry, wrote on April 1, 1863, ‘In camp all day reading Les-Miserables by Victor Hugo.'” It was so popular during the war that the Army of Northern Virginia came to be called “Lee’s Miserables!” And at the end of the war, Victor Hugo himself joined a French group that raised money to present Lincoln’s widow, Mary Todd, with a memorial medal. (Source for this information: New York Times Opinionator, February 9, 2013, In Camp, Reading ‘Les Miserables’ by Louis P. Masur.
While Hollywood put cinema on the map, Hollywood has France to thank. This is where it all began here…and the French film industry is no slouch. February 13, 1895, Louis and Auguste Lumière patented their first projection machine. A few weeks later, on March 28th, the first film “Lunch Hour” at the Lumière Factory was shown before the Société d’Encouragement de L’Industrie Nationale. Nine months later, like a child in the womb, the cinema in France (and for the entire world) was born. The first public showing was on December 28, 1895 at the Grand Café on boulevard des Capucines in a basement called the “Salon Indien.” Admission was one franc to see 10 films, each lasting less than one minute. They earned 35 francs that first day, but within three weeks, proceeds were up to 2000 francs per day!
Today, more than 200 million tickets are sold and France is the third largest film market in the world both in terms of admissions (after the United States and India) and revenues (after the United States and Japan). It is the most successful film industry in Europe, with a record breaking number of films produced. France is also one of the few countries where non-American productions have the biggest share — American films only represented 44.9% of total admissions in 2012.
The French government widely supports the film industry and is known as the “seventh art” (the other arts are: architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, music, poetry and seventh — cinema). “The term was coined by the Italian intellectual Ricciotto Canudo in 1912, after the 1911 publication of his book La naissance du sixième art (Birth of the Sixth Art,) in which he argued that Cinema was synthesis of the spatial arts and temporal arts.” (Wiki.Answers.com)
The “Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée” (CNC) was created by a law of October 25, 1946, as a public administrative organization, set up as a separate and financially independent entity. The center comes under the authority of the ministry of culture and communication with principal missions of regulatory support for the film, broadcast, video, multimedia and technical industries, promotion of film and television for distribution to all audiences and preservation and development of the film heritage. For official information about government support of cinema, visit the Web site.
And did you all notice the Red Carpet line-up of the gorgeous actresses in their gorgeous gowns? Jennifer Lawrence got all the attention as she tripped over her Dior and Anne Hathaway’s nipples took center stage in her pink Prada gown…unintentionally? No matter. I’ll take any of the gowns and any of their figures and the privilege of the both on such a glamorous night as “The Oscars.”
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
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