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France, 1923 (MIFF 1958, Programme 48)

Director: René Clair

One of the first films made by Rene Clair, Paris Qui Dort gives a foretaste of that leaning to' fantasy which contributed so much to Clair's later work and made him one of the outstanding directors of the French screen. It tells the story of an inventor who discovers a ray which can make the whole world stand still. The only persons who escape its influence are a young nightwatchman at the top of the Eiffel tower, some plane travellers and the inventor's daughter. They wander through the city of Paris, where everything is in a state of suspended animation. When the effects of the ray are finally reversed, life continues as before, but with some surprising results.

Paris Qui Dort was made with little money and under difficulties. The choice of subject emphasizes Clair's return to early French sources, for Emile Cohl in 1907 had produced Monsieur Stop about a scientist who discovered how to arrest motion.

Throughout the film Clair continues to express his conviction that "the function of the cinema is to teach us to look." His wit and his best situations alike are wholly visual, though they may have emotional, even literary overtones. The film's delight in observations of human behaviour {note the two sandwichmen trying to pick up a banknote) betray's Clair's admiration for Chaplin.

See also...


In the last year we have been fortunate enough in Melbourne to see two of the three classic films made by Rene Clair in the early 30's. Sous le Toits de Paris and A Nous la Liberte. Now we have the ... More »


Le Fantorne du Moulin Rouge was notable for the various uses Clair made of the cameras resources, sometimes “giving objects a three-dimensional effect by moving round them" (J. Bourgeois). The ... More »


This early Clair film was to be the entr'acte between the two parts of Rolf de Mare's Swedish ballet "Relache". Picabia intended it to be a procession of dreamlike cerebral images, divorced from the ... More »


Following the First World War, the Impressionist: school and the "avant-garde" tried to break the French commercial producers from the routine adaptations which formed the bulk of their work. They ... More »


A young woman breaks into a television studio during a news transmission, and takes the newscaster hostage, demanding transmission time so that she can relay a message to the viewers. ... More »


A film showing a blind child and his difficulties in reading Braille. The child's face reflects and expression of effort. ... More »

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