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Reviewed on 02/28/2012 | No Reviews

My Concierge Told Me

Why France conquered Hollywood and celebrates a bumper year for French cinema

It was not a victory, it was a triumph: “The Artist” picked up five Oscars. That was a historic moment for France. But that was not all: „Hugo” and “Midnight in Paris” won an additional six awards. Both films are not only situated in Paris, but also give the French capital a major role.

Photo: © Kevork Djansezian, AFP

Jean of Arch: a new national hero Photo: © Kevin Winter, Getty/AFP

“France conquered Hollywood”, noted the New York Times, and added: “if only briefly”.

I would say: it seduced Hollywood. More than this: not only Hollywood and not only briefly. France seduced America with its legendary charm, a lot of wit and a very European form of nostalgia. No American director would have been able to make this film that many call a love letter to Hollywood. In America you’ve got to look forward, to reinvent yourself, to find new forms and new dimensions. Only a European director was able to make such a nostalgic choice and reduce  his means deliberately.

The French touch

How do the French feel about this historic event? For a lot of people the haul was a clear endorsement of the so-called French cultural exception. Nothing against the idea that filmmaking and other arts should be protected from the ravages of a market economy. But here it’s about something else: and the winner is – the French touch. The effortless evidence. The Paris feeling. And the fact that looking backwards, sometimes, can be very modern.

New nipple-gate and twitter-leg

Whereas in the US, sorry to say, the main debate after the Oscar is another one. The night was “short on scandals and still long on body parts”, reads the  CNN website. The debate is whether a the dress of Jennifer Lopez revealed a part of her nipple or areola – or if it was all imaginary. And than the other hot subject is, believe it or not, the right leg of Angelina Jolie, which, finally, got its own twitter account: @angiesRightLeg…. I for my part prefer Jean of Arch who doesn’t use a lot of words.
“And the Oscar goes to Jean Dujardin” par lemondefr

A dream machine

Interestingly, the triumph in Hollywood goes together with the celebration of a bumper year for French cinema: films like “The Artist” and “Intouchables” made 2011 France’s best box office year in nearly half a century with 215.6 million Euros ticket sales. Alors? Are they happy, the French? Well, as the daily “Le Monde” noted: cinema-going in France has historically risen in times of economic crisis. That’s, alas, the other side of the coin. But it shows us, that cinema is still „une industrie du reve“, a dream machine.

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