Culture & Art

From Amélie Poulain to Steampunk: The dream world of Caro and Jeunet

3 months ago - Julie D.

You may have come to Montmartre in the footsteps of Amélie Poulain ... Take advantage of it until July 2018 to visit the Halle Saint-Pierre, to see the exhibition devoted to objects crafted by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Then, continue your treasure hunt to discover Paris, but on another track, that of the "Steampunk" dear to the before mentioned.

"Caro and Jeunet" are a genius tandem known for their films with a strange universe, populated by bizarre objects and sometimes a comical décor but sometimes disturbing. Their best-known collaborations are the films Delicatessen and La cite des Enfants Perdus. Jean-Pierre Jeunet is also, of course, the director of Alien Resurrection and Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain.

The exhibition allows you to dive into their dream world with delight and to find the unusual objects that populate their films.

Everyone remembers Amelie Poulain's bedside lamp: the lamp-stand, a placid pig in a dressing gown, liking to share her wise aphorisms about her owner's eventful love life. The lamp is part of the exhibits at the Halle Saint-Pierre, in the heart of the neighbourhood of Amelie Poulain - so to speak at home! You can also see Dominique Bretodeau’s box of souvenirs that Amelie returns to its owner after many subterfuges.

But the exhibition also recalls the darker sides of the universe of Caro and Jeunet, where the Steampunk cyclops evolve, decked out with a monocle at the end of an articulated arm, the “optacon", and where the Alien takes the scary aspect of a skeletal abortion.

Halle Saint-Pierre Museum of art brut in Montmartre

The Halle Saint Pierre, outsider art and singular art

"Dedicated to the most unexpected forms of creation," Halle Saint-Pierre is a space dedicated to outsider art and singular art, nestled at the foot of the Butte Montmartre - near the gardens of Sacré Coeur where Amelie Poulain takes Nino Quincampoix on a nice treasure hunt.

The Halle also hosts an art-shop bookstore and a café. In parallel with the exhibition Caro and Jeunet, do not miss "Turbulences in the Balkans", on the upper floor of the Halle, an exhibition devoted to the latest developments of outsider art in this region.

Interestingly, Jean-Pierre Jeunet is an avid visitor to the Halle, and the creators and artists who have exhibited in the past have suggested many elements for his films. The exhibition includes works from the Halle Saint-Pierre collection, chosen by Caro and Jeunet for having inspired them.

Halle Saint-Pierre - 2, rue Ronsard, 75018 - metro Anvers or Abbesses - open every day, from 11h to 18h, Saturday from 11h to 19h and Sunday from 12h to 18h - beware, the ticket office closes 1h before the closing time of the museum - full price 9 €, under 15 6 €

Flying Machine Steampunk

Steampunk, the nostalgia of the future

But what is "Steampunk"? A universe born of the unbridled imagination of novelists and artists both fascinated by technological progress and worried about its excesses. From the novels of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne to the wanderings of Adèle Blanc-Sec in a Paris populated by frightening creatures, the Steampunk cultivates an imaginary that mixes Belle Époque fashion and crafted gear. Redingotes, crinolines and time machines stand in a merry tote.

The "Steampunk" is also a very lively community of fans, who in France are called "vaporists".

This mixture of futurism and nostalgia, these strange and poetic objects, are found in a series of famous chromolithography’s: "The Year 2000" seen by Villemard. Designed in 1910, at the height of the Belle Époque, these exquisitely obsolete skits described an ultra-technological future as it was portrayed at the time: telephone conversations with holograms, supersonic means of transport, beard-trimming machines and hair styling for the ladies. Even if we can recognize the ancestors of objects that we use every day, the combination of articulated arms, gramophone pavilions and 1900s clothing still smiles...

The turn of the century, late 19th and early 20th, is also the time of Jules Verne's triumph. Captain Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus, is a shining example of these complicated machines whose function is not always obvious but which have an undeniable look! Moreover, you can find the Mysteries of the Nautilus among the attractions of Disneyland Paris.

Jules Verne was also an unneglectable source of inspiration for Caro and Jeunet and remains the patron saint of Steampunk, in Paris and around the world. "The Jules Verne" is also the name of the restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower, symbol Steampunk if it were.

The Mysteries of Nautilus - Disneyland Paris - accessible by RER A, Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy stop, or by Disneyland Paris Express from Gare du Nord, Opera and Châtelet.

Restaurant Le Jules Verne (Alain Ducasse) - 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower - avenue Gustave Eiffel, 75007 - metro 6 Bir-Hakeim, RER C Eiffel Tower

Mystery of the Nautilus, Disneyland Paris

The automaton collection and the Blériot aeroplane from the Museum of Arts and Crafts

This fascination for ingenious machines does not date from yesterday - nor does it date from Jules Verne. Poets can continue their daydreams at the Museum of Arts and Crafts, which has a superb collection of automatons from all ages. This Theatre of automatons shows notably a Marie-Antoinette musician, player of tympanon. Her graceful head movements produce a strange, almost living impression. The Theatre brings together other curious specimens, many toys like this Don Quixote with a proud moustache painted on his steed on wheels, and other musicians, such as barbaric organ player.

At the discretion of the galleries, one can also admire the flying machine of Louis Blériot, ancestor of the plane. This airplane was the very one that allowed Blériot to cross the Channel in 37 minutes in 1909 - and this vintage film, black and white grainy and flickering, will certainly have influenced the fans of Méliès that are Caro and Jeunet. The character of the zany and daring inventor, who tests his own machines at the risk of his life, is a well-known figure in the Steampunk pantheon!
Museum of Arts and Crafts - 60, rue de Réaumur, 75003 - Metro Arts et Métiers or Reaumur-Sebastopol - price: 8 €, reduced price € 5.50, free the first Sunday of the month and Thursday from 18h to 21h30

Monoplane of Louis Blériot

Arts et Métiers metro station, line 11

The Arts et Métiers metro station itself is well known to the "vaporists" for its retro and futuristic look, a trademark of the Steampunk ... On the docks of line 11, it multiplies the winks like the portholes that pretend to be in the depths of the Earth, and which display objects from the Museum of Arts and Crafts, such as the armillary sphere or the Telstar satellite.

Its elliptical vault, entirely covered with riveted copper plates, gives it a very particular look that evokes the mechanics and the machines, as well as the big wheels at the end of the platform. This deco set up for the bicentennial of the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts is due to the screenwriter Benoît Peeters and the designer François Schuiten. Long-time friends, they collaborated on the fantastic comic book Les Cités Obscures. This universe of science fiction takes us, among other places, to "Brüsel" and "Pâhry": these two imaginary cities resemble what could be Brussels and Paris, if a crazy Steampunk urbanist had redesigned them...