Here's What Paris Would Look Like as an Old-Timey Movie Set

What if the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and even the Eiffel Tower were all fake?

by Beckett Mufson
Jan 12 2016, 6:33pm

Images courtesy the artists

As a city, Paris has been the subject of artwork, from paintings to film for centuries, but what if the whole city was itself just a big movie set? Experimental filmmaker duo Claire & Max's first 4K short uses clever techniques to turn the cradle of Western art and culture into a facade akin to a 40s Western B-movie. Apparences, which is French for "appearences," follows in the footsteps of the short film Hypocentre, which envisions a Paris completely devoid of people. 

"We have been working for several years on the 'emptiness' perception in large urban areas and on architectural appearance," Maxime Contour tells The Creators Project. "Paris is known for its classical architecture and Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s buildings, but some of them also seem flat like the Flatiron building in NYC, and sometimes have no depth. We wanted to represent Paris with this concept of flat facades, coupled with a ghostly representation of the people." 

Louis Braille Street from Avenue du Général Michel Bizot

"Paris is for us a kind of laboratory, an experimental ground for our creations. We can duplicate the concept to other cities in the world as part of our travels," Contour adds.When they're not executing experimental concept films in Paris, Claire & Max turn their lens to other cities around the world, travelling at least once a month under the moniker Menilmonde. They've released several compilations of their travels which are more joyful than experimental, but still demonstrate clear skill with both camera and editing software.

 A year ago they released Shanghai, Arch'illusion, in which they fade the city's rapidly expanding skyscrapers in and out of the frame with bonafide movie magic. That was a technique they perfected first in Paris, just as they've now perfected the techniques in Apparances. Perhaps we'll see the technique applied to other cities they travel to in the near future. An illusory Washington D.C. would certainly feel appropriate.

Watch Apparances and check out some before-and-after images below.

Notre Dame: before / after

Porte Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis bld: before / after

See more of Claire & Max's work on their website.

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experimental film
film set