Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Honourable Mentions: Paris, Je T’aime

The film Paris, je T’aime is a series of short films, directed by various directors and featuring a veritable galaxy of stars, all centred on the theme of love and set in Paris. The segments vary from poignant character studies to the surreal and, as you will realise because I am looking at the film on this blog, one of the segments features a vampire.

The segment is called “Quartier de la Madeleine” and is only some five minutes long but it does capture some wonderful imagery within its short length, though the segment has no dialogue. I intend to walk through the whole five minutes as, though it is visually wonderful, there is nothing shocking in its length.

It begins with an American tourist (Elijah Wood) setting up some very high steps in the night. As he climbs them he hears something, though he does not know what. When at the head of the stairs he steps into something sticky, the camera moves down and we see it is blood. The director, Vincenzo Natali, wonderfully juxtaposes the blue/grey wash of the Parisian night with the all too red spill of blood. I was reminded, in some measure, of the filming techniques in Sin City – though the colours used are different.

Crouching the tourist moves forward and sees the run of blood from a man (Wes Craven in an uncredited role, Craven also directed one of the segments) and a shape above him, a vampire (Olga Kurylenko). She raises her head and her finger touches her lips. The tourist drops back behind a car. When he looks back the body is still there but the vampire is gone.

He falls back and suddenly she is before him. She lunges forward as if to bite but the bite turns into a kiss upon his neck and she sniffs him in a most animalistic way. The she begins to float away. There is a flap of her clothing, like wings, but the movement is captured in an ethereal way with the wind whipping her hair.

The tourist stands and watches the vampire vanish. He grabs an empty wine bottle and smashes it, then slits his wrist, holding the wound out to the vampire. She stops, interested for a moment, and then continues her retreat. The tourist looks dismayed but then dismay turns into fear as he realises that the blood is pumping ferociously from the wound.

He moves, but slips in blood and falls back down the stairs. At the bottom we see blood leak from the wound in his head. The camera pans to the stairs and the vampire floats towards the prone, dying tourist. She bites her wrist and drops blood to his mouth. His eyes change and his vision shifts, and we see her not in the blue wash but in a vivid bright red and orange wash.

He stands, his tongue poking his new fangs. They embrace and he bites her neck. She looks shocked but the look melts to pleasure and she bites back. They suck on each other’s neck as the film fades through a heart shape.

As I say, short, sweet and to the point, the joy of the segment is the wonderful visuals. Kirylenko looks fantastic as the vampire and both primary actors communicate all through looks, given the absence of dialogue. There is an interesting undertone that, whilst the tourist ultimately has an accident, he has essentially committed suicide before being turned. If nothing else this is proof positive, as though we needed it, that vampires can turn up just about anywhere.

The film, as a whole, is an interesting piece, obviously not the normal sort of film that features on these pages. However, I do have to say that, with regard another segment, no matter how surreal you get there is absolutely never a need to have something featuring a mime! Jut my own personal prejudice but there you go.

The imdb page is here.


Zahir Blue said...

I recently had the good luck to see this clip. Very good, quite touching and amusing as well as sweet (in a dark, dark, dark way).

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Zahir, it is a lovely scene (as you say, in a dark way)