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A Cinematic Journey in Paris (under lockdown)

As I walked out of a late screening of Little Women by Greta Gerwig at Les 3 Luxembourg, an independent cinema located near Odéon in the Rive Gauche, I never thought that would be the last time I would be able to watch a film in a movie theatre for the upcoming months. As part of my weekly routine during my year abroad in the City of Lights, I religiously attended film screenings in the evening after class. As a way to discover Paris from the lens of a cinephile, I created a mission for myself which consisted in watching a movie in every emblematic cinema in Paris as some sort peregrination through the city’s film sanctuaries such as Le Champo, Le Nouvel Odéon, Le Max Linder and Le Reflet Médicis.

Prior to the lockdown, I was on a mission to watch every Oscar-nominated film at the cinema as I do every year and I was particularly excited about fulfilling this mission as I completed my crusade across the legendary picture houses in Paris. However, this year, my film marathon across Paris got suddenly interrupted by the eruption of the pandemic. Once the lockdown was officially declared in mid-March, even though this meant the suspension of my sacred journey across Parisian cinemas for an undetermined period of time, I actually rejoiced at the thought of finally having a great opportunity to finally watch all the movies that I had been keeping on my Netflix watchlist for ages.

Image Credit: Carla Suarez

During the lockdown, the power of film truly helped me deal with the anxiety and uncertainty of the strange times we all lived. While I felt like reality turned into a dystopia, movies brought me joy and fed my soul during the loneliness of the quarantine. The greatest power of film is that it can make you travel in space and time, so I used the seventh art as a media to revisit Paris through the lens of the great masters of the Nouvelle Vague such as François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Agnès Varda. It was also through film that I revisited London whenever I felt homesick with films such as Godard’s 1969 documentary on the Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil, the classic romcom Notting Hill, starred by Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant and Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange. Film turned into a media to discover different cities, places and cultures while being under a quarantine situation.

Part of this cinematic discovery journey through new land as well as familiar grounds was made possible by my most cherished streaming platforms, Netflix and Mubi. Identifying as a big user of these platforms before the lockdown, I feel that they integrated my daily routine in a deeper way during the quarantine. Great classics such as Wim Wenders’ Paris,Texas, Steven Spielberg’s Sugarland Express, Volver by Pedro Almodóvar, Blue Velvet by David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window became my daily bread.

As cinemas in Paris re-opened in early June, I decided to resume my mission and I headed to emblematic Reflet Médicis in the heart of Le Quartier Latin to see a screening of Une femme es une femme by Jean-Luc Godard. As I installed into a half-empty room with a few other masked spectators, a great sense of pleasure filled my soul as I returned to the familiar and comforting feeling of the big screen.

Cinema, whether it is through a laptop screen, a projector or a proper screen, holds a mystical power over the human mind and can truly act as a window of imagination and teleport us away from reality. As one of the greatest odes to the Seventh Art, Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore, portrays it, cinema is a magic media that acts as an escape to reality. During these uncertain times, whether it is at home or at the cinema, the universal essence of film can truly heal the soul.

Edited by Andriani Scordellis, Film Editor

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