As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, recently I’ve been feeling really nostalgic for Paris and that whole French atmosphere in general. I’ve rewatched my old photos and videos a few times but that wasn’t enough. So, in times of a global pandemic, when traveling is currently off the table, virtual traveling via movies comes to the rescue!
Before visiting Paris, and later Lyon, I never understood all the fuss about that country, why it was a dream of millions, what was so special about it. I never thought that I’ll voluntarily visit it, and not just visit, but fall in love with it. I guess it’s one of those things that you need to see and experience yourself before making any conclusions. There’s something peculiar about France. It looks like an ordinary European country, with the similar gothic style and architecture, but something is very differing. And that’s its air, its spirit and atmosphere. It’s romantic (even for cold-hearted people like me), it’s mysterious, it’s full of history, art, tragedy of antique times. It’s like literally feeling yourself in a movie. However, now we’re going to do the exact opposite: if in Paris I was feeling myself in a movie, now, I’ll feel myself in Paris, by watching and rewatching the following movies.
1. Emily In Paris (2020). Let’s start with the recently released one. It’s a mini-series of 10 episodes about a girl transferring from Chicago to Paris for work. What I loved about this, is that you kind of get to explore the city with the main character, and have the first impressions of it with her, be a tourist then slowly change into a resident. It’s full of wonderful sceneries of the city, and it’s worth watching at least for them. Plus, it’s one of those empowering and motivating films that makes you feel inspired to go and get your stuff done, live your life to the best and always dream.
2. Ballerina (2016). This one is actually a cartoon. It’s about an orphan girl, whose dream is to become a ballerina and she pursues it by all means, even though her chances are quite low. Again, this belongs to the same empowering category, as we see that we must work hard to reach our dreams. Oh, and obviously everything happens in Paris, so you’ll see many beautiful scenes of it too.
3. French Kiss (1995). An old rom com, starring Meg Ryan, do you really need to know more about it? It’s perfect for a light watch, starting off in Paris, then moving to other amazing places of France and ending in a beautiful nature and vineyard.
4. Midnight in Paris (2011). I reckon this is the most atmospheric one among my list. I felt really related to it, as the main character doesn’t find himself in modern times and feels like he belongs to older eras. So when he comes to Paris, he keeps time-traveling to 1920s, meets a bunch of famous people of those times, gets the chance to see experience their lives. It’s great to see Paris in its prosperous times, with all its glory. I promise you’ll fall in love with the mood of this movie.
5. Ratatouille (2007). I just realized that lots of movies of this list have the idea of never giving up on your dreams. I’m pretty sure everyone knows this famous cartoon about a rat named Remy, who has a special ability and skills for culinary. After some circumstances he finds himself in Paris and becomes an awesome cook along with his human friend. I reckon that all the gourmets, who think that Paris is the capital of the greatest cuisine, will especially enjoy it.
6. Hugo (2011). Frankly this is my least favorite in the list, just because I had higher expectations and thought that it would be a proper fantasy. It might not have many scenes of the city, but has the picturesque daily lives of many people in a railway station, with lots of small boutiques, shops and cafes. It also involves the history of Georges Méliès and cinematography.
7. Intouchables (2011). This is one of my most favorite movies, I’ve rewatched it many many times. It’s a drama and comedy, about a rich aristocratic quadriplegic, who hires a simple young man to be his caretaker. Why I love this so much, it’s because it has lots of funny moments, but also makes you think about life. You understand that no matter what, life doesn’t stop, and that with the right mindset you can overcome everything. You see how different attitudes actually have an important impact on the same situation. This one is just a must for watching, and not just for the French mood.
8. The Three Musketeers (2011). I know that this movie has received lots of negative reviews, but I loved it a lot and never noticed that it has any “weak sides“. It’s an adventure, an adaptation of the famous book of Alexandre Dumas. It has lots of action, some comedy, a great cinematography, and the lovely old France. The cast is great, it has many of my favorite actors. Also it got some resemblance with “Pirates of the Caribbean”, perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I loved it so much.
9. A Monster in Paris (2010). Another cartoon, about a failed scientific experiment, as a result of which a “monster” is born. Everyone panics about it, while in reality the monster is a very cute creature with a great talent of singing. It’s one of those films that teaches you not to focus on people’s appearance, but to see their soul, what’s inside of them, to notice the amazing potential. Looks can be deceiving and we need to see the beauty inside. The whole story takes place in Paris, so again it’s lots of art and glorious landscapes.
10. Les Miserables (2012). Last but not least the Miserables. No need to tell what’s it about, as it’s an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s most famous work. To be honest I had some mixed and contradictory feelings on this. I generally hate musicals, and this was three hours of singing. But there was something about it, that didn’t let me turn it off and I watched it till the end (though I skipped some of the solo singing parts). The ending itself made me love the movie, even though throughout it my only wish was a soon ending. I felt so patriotic for a country that I’m no resident of, I really felt their rebellion and lived with it. The song “do you hear the people sing” has been in my playlist ever since, and every time I listen to it, I get goosebumps, because it has a soul, and it makes you relive all the feelings along with the characters.
I guess I should also mention other two honorary candidates of this list: “Passport to Paris” (1999) and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996). These two were my favorites when I was a child, especially the first one, I rewatched it so many times on an old cassette tape. But I didn’t include them in the list just because I haven’t watched them in a long time and couldn’t write a proper opinion now.
I definitely felt myself in France once again, while watching the films and preparing the post. I hope that you’ll enjoy the movies and will feel the wonderful French atmosphere.