On the rare occasions when we’re up and about at daybreak, before shops open and before most people head off to work, we love the feeling of lightness and emptiness that blankets streets and even whole neighborhoods. An occasional bus may rumble by, a lone car may or may not stop at a red light, but on the whole humanity is absent from the equation and Paris is on empty.
Of course, with each passing minute Parisian life kicks in, and soon there are cars, traffic jams, crowds of residents and tourists flowing onward. How nice it would be, we’d muse, if those deserted parks and monuments could remain that way as the day wore on.
Two talented filmmakers – Claire and Max – have created a four-minute video that does just that. Boulevards, avenues, monuments, even the ring road, are empty of vehicles and people. And as in a futuristic film, in one frame, the pigeons appear to have taken over. Even if you’ve only visited Paris once, you’ll quickly recognize the Louvre, the Opéra, the Madeleine, Paris Plage, Place de la Concorde and the Assemblée Nationale, to name but a few.
How did they manage to create this eerie, slightly weird video? According to their website http://menilmonde.com/projet-hypocentre/ they used a fairly low-tech solution (requiring a good tripod and a good video camera) that did not entail getting up at 6am.
What inspired them to make this film? In their explanation of the video they ask: “What if Paris was emptied of its inhabitants, and the actions of Man more and more harmful to our fragile planet?” And “Isn’t it the dream of everyone else in France to see Paris with the Parisians cleared out?” It certainly is the dream of many and their video helps us to imagine what the city is like when Paris is on empty.