Paris mon amour
Paris, spring 1968: in a flat in the capital, three youngsters talk about politics, cinema, books, and ideals, a provocative and sensual ménage à trois with the revolution raging in doors, streets and squares. The dreamers (2003) by Bernardo Bertolucci gives us a ruthless picture of the spirit of the time.
Reaching May 1968, Paris and its 1960s: the light and sophisticated atmosphere, the joie de vivre, the charm and fancy of the capital host the buds of the 1968 revolution.
Culture translated in art, literature, philosophy, cinema and music, mirrors the mood of the city of possibilities, of protest and liberty.
In music, we’ll mention the chansonnier maudit Serge Gainsbourg with his scandal song from the 1960s, “Je t’aime… moi non plus” – four minutes of pure and explicit erotica, labeled as X-rated in Italy and censored by RAI television.
The song was written for his lover and femme fatale Brigitte Bardot, who asked the artist not to publish it as she was married to German millionaire Gunter Sachs. Gainsbourg, a few months later, meets 20-year-old Jane Birkin, English actress known for her acting in Blow Up by Michelangelo Antonioni, and asked her to record with him: the result is a passionate, intense duet, with sighs, moans, melancholy and romance – a sheer example of the sexual revolution of the time.
It also marks the beginning of one of the most provocative and transgressive love stories of the 20th centuries, which is an immortal icon of pop culture – despite their separation, the drinking problem and death of Serge – from which Charlotte Gainsbourg was born, now a successful actress.
The impulsiveness of desire and the research for a free and joyful authenticity reach cinema as well: film libraries and art-houses show the movies of the Nouvelle Vague, the new wave looking for a new language, willing to break with moralizing documentary tradition, to refuse the universal messages of institutional cinema,
Directors such as François Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol want to bring on the screen this change, this new way of living and seeing a restless, unbiased and relaxed generation.
This is where we see movies shot with improvised means, in the streets and in homes: “à bout de soufflé” by Godard (1960) is the symbol of a new way of making cinema, whose goal is to get close to reality and “capture the beauty of truth”, says the director.
Paris is the natural background, a space belonging to the characters: it is the center of the universe, “the most poetic of prisons” and a springboard to freedom – as Truffaut tells in his masterpiece “Jules et Jim” (1962), with charming Jeanne Moreau as the protagonist of the love triangle.
The liberation of desire also moves through universities and the thoughts of the time’s intellectuals: Marx and Freud are read and reinterpreted by philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Félix Guattari and Jean Paul Sartre, Marcuse, Althusse, Lacan.
Paris is still, also, all of this. Paris keeps on changing, at the pace of the various eyes observing it and the voices telling its story.
This city has a thousand lives: histories created, even before than by hands, by pens, by cameras, by colors, by thoughts and revolutions belonging to those who have lived it and loved it.
Because “Paris is a real ocean. Throw in the plummet, you will never reach bottom. Survey it; describe it. However conscientious your survey and careful your chart, however numerous and concerned to learn the truth the explorers of this sea may be, there will always be a virgin realm, an unknown cavern, flowers, pearls, monsters, things undreamed of…” Honoré de Balzac.