Apr 28, 2012

An American In France: Day 1

Tableau Your Mind is in France. We are out of our comfort zone. We are traveling in a country where English isn't the main language and the currency looks like it was watercolor-painted by children. We can't understand the woman on the train speakers for a completely different reason than why we can't understand the woman on the subway back home. We are lost.

When it's difficult to find one's bearings, it's important to look to the familiar - finding a McDonald's or a Cracker Barrel can help make a person feel grounded and safe. When I'm in France, it turns out nothing makes me feel safer than retreating to the films of France, to the
movies that shaped my perception of this country.

See how you like the rain now, Woody.
For the next few days, I will be in Paris, and no city in France has inspired as many films and filmmakers. Today, with the rain pouring down on the city, I retreated to the films of Woody Allen, specifically Midnight in Paris and Everyone Says I Love You. Being tired and jet-lagged makes me more neurotic and paranoid, so it wasn't exactly a stretch. In Midnight, Woody Allen's conduit Owen Wilson talks about there being nothing quite like Paris in the rain. There's an innocence, there's a fresh start, there's a beauty. What Wilson fails to mention is that there is also an unmistakable odor to French rain - there's nothing like rain to heighten the smell of urine. Hard to smell the possibility over all that.

As I walked down the river Seine, breathing through my mouth and carrying my oversize umbrella, I was also reminded of Allen's musical-comedy Everyone Says I Love You, and a particular scene in which Allen and Goldie Hawn (playing his ex-wife) dance a ballet on the cobblestone walkways on the side of the river. It's a beautiful, surrealist scene. Both of these movies evoke Allen's oft-used theme of regression in some way or another. One film shows the desire to escape to a simpler time, one film shows the desire to be young and to remember one's youth. And nothing speaks to that more than Paris, with its hip attitude rooted amid tradition. There's a conflict in the city - cities that have been around long enough, and who have retained some semblance of history, tend to feel like two different worlds. And Paris feels that way - street youths pal around and wear crazy fashion trends while sitting literally feet from the Musee d'Orsay - priceless artwork hangs so near to them. This conflict/combination is something I can get behind.

France hasn't yet won my heart, but by the end of the week (and with the help of my satchel full of my favorite French films) I hope it will. I'll be charting my progress here each day, so be sure to check back tomorrow for my run-down of Day 2's activities. I will also be giving a quick look at some other films that take place in France that are worth checking out.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...