Paris has served as a setting for many movies, including some where the city only plays a small yet memorable part. Take Michael Curtiz directed picture, Casablanca, for instance. In that 1942 love triangle set in Paris, you can see some scenes of characters in the French capital. However, the famous line, “We’ll Always Have Paris”, is more memorable for the point in which it comes in the film. Maybe most would associate Paris with Casablanca just for that one line, but Paris appears more than once in it. Here are some other films where the City of Lights play a role in the narrative, whether that is small or big. You may watch these movies before starting your Orsay tour.
In Christopher Nolan’s mind-bender of a sci-fi thriller, Leonardo DiCaprio’s mind-espionage ‘Dom Cobb’ takes his assistant, Ellen Page’s ‘Ariadne’, to a Paris bridge. He transports her there through mind invasion, but both are physically present at a coffee-shop. Confused? That is Nolan’s way of storytelling, with fractured strands of the narrative becoming a ‘whole’ at the end. As part of the story, he takes his characters to this bridge in Paris, namely Pont de Bir-Hakeim.
Inception is a movie of two halves – the first one where we see characters learning the tricks of the trade, and the second where they pull off the mind heist. It is in this learning process where Cobb takes Ariadne to this stunning bridge, supported by curved columns, with Art Nouveau architectural style. Nolan’s cinematographer, Walter C. Pfister, captures this Art Nouveau-style bridge in stunning fashion.
Much of this animation film takes place in La Tour d’Argent. This restaurant situated in the fifth arrondissement of Paris overlooks the Notre Dame Cathedral and the river Seine. It is the highest part of the French gastronomic convention. Some reports find that it has historical roots dating back to the 16th century, but as per other estimates it was launched in 1860. That is a debatable aspect of La Tour d’Argent, but its significance in the French restaurant scene (not the movie scene) is beyond doubt.
Maybe it is that popularity of La Tour d’Argent that made the makers of Ratatouille use it as Gusteau for this film. In the movie, it is called Gusteau, the restaurant where its main character, a rat called Remy, dreams of working as a French chef. When on a Paris tour, do stop by this restaurant and capture it to add to your architectural photography collection.
The Da Vinci Code
Filmmaker Ron Howard filmed “The Da Vinci Code” partly in the Musée du Louvre. The museum even has a visitor trail named after this work where you get to follow in the footsteps of its characters, professor Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu. The Louvre’s association with The Da Vinci Code is well documented, but not many know that this film was set in the Church of Saint-Sulpice.
Paris’s second-biggest church, Saint-Sulpice is home to an organ, which is among the biggest such musical instruments in the world. This church shot to fame after featuring in this film, based on the Dan Brown novel of the same name. As per the story, the fictional Paris Meridian known as the Rose Line divides Saint Sulpice. If you have read the novel or seen the film, you will find several elements in both at some stage in your trip to it.
Midnight in Paris
This Woody Allen film set in Paris stars Tom Hiddleston as Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, Owen Wilson as Gil Pender and Rachel McAdams as Inez. There is this scene where Owen Wilson’s writer character walks through the Pont Alexandre III bridge. It is among Paris’s most stunning bridges, having antique lamps, detailed statues and golf leafing, which inspires romance. Whether you walk on this bridge in the daytime or at nighttime, it might just have you thinking of someone special in your life. This is what happens to Pender in this film; when walking on it in rain, he realizes that he has discovered his soul mate in actor Léa Seydoux.
To watch Martin Scorsese’s film “Hugo” is to take a museum of Orsay tour through the lens of a small boy. It opens with the image of a boy looking through the giant clock on the upper floor of this French museum. This museum is home to an impressive collection of Impressionist-style artworks. The clock on its fifth floor serves as a window that overlooks Paris. From there, you can see some of France’s popular landmarks, namely the Musée du Louvre, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris and the river Seine. The view will amaze you too, so do not forget to visit the Musée d’Orsay during your trip to the nation’s capital.