Marijana and I became friends when we met at the Sea/Land photography exhibit of Patrick J. Adams (of Suits fame) a few years ago. I’m so excited to welcome MJ to this year’s Paris Month where she talks about the movie Midnight in Paris and how scenes on screen compare to the real location. I personally love to do this with movies and shows I love. NYC is always pretty easy to spend a day walking around to find familiar locations (like the Friends‘ building!), but Toronto is filled with it as well. Casa Loma for X-Men is one of my favourites, as well as the aforementioned Toronto-shot Suits!
Let me set the scene.
It’s a dark night in Paris, you’re slightly tipsy and walking, completely oblivious to what is happening around you, up the cobblestone streets of Paris. Next thing you know, the clock strikes midnight and a strange carriage appears. Sounds very cinematic, doesn’t it? Well, it is. I’ve just described one of the key plot points behind Woody Allen’s 2011 Midnight in Paris.
How do I fit in with this cinematic masterpiece? Fast forward a couple of years to when I a) first watched the movie, and b) ventured to Paris to see the steps for myself (and attempt to score an invite to one of the Fitzgerald’s amazing galas. Sadly, that second part never happened). Funny enough this exploration happened just before I started working for the Toronto–based location scouting marketplace, Set Scouter.
So how does the real location compare to the movie?
After working (somewhat) behind–the–scenes in film production for almost a year, I gained a stronger feeling for what made the perfect set. The right angle, time of day, or even just the right lighting can make or break a single shot. Have you ever done a comparison of how a “made famous” location looks in and out of its own version of studio make–up? Well, I have and you should. I highly recommend it.
What was different?
Unlike a lot of real-life movie locations this particular set did not differ greatly from its original look. (A lot of this had to do with the angle used by the filmmaker for the particular scene). The image below is a direct screenshot from the film taken just outside of the Church of St. Étienne du Mont.
While the narrow laneway across from the church gave way to the famous carriage that transported our protagonist into the past, this 16th-century cathedral was home to the famous steps where he awaits his fate night after night. After all, the whole point of the film is to emphasize the main character’s love for the city so why not romanticize his actions?
I always like to answer this question with another—why not? Truthfully, sometimes a movie location is in fact a lot more exciting on screen than it is in person, however that also depends on the movie. Where one lacks, another thrives. However, if you’re looking to enhance the beauty that is the streets of Paris you really don’t need to do much. (But I’m also highly biased when it comes to cobblestone streets and French architecture).
What are some of your favourite movie locations to visit? Tweet me at @m_miric! I’d love to continue the conversation.