Nov 16, 2020 in Literature

The Other Side of Paris

The Other Side of Paris

Paris is a beautiful city, often referred to as the City of Light. Its beauty presents itself in the form of exquisite architecture, natural surroundings, and museums. The hospitality industry has also taken the time to come up with the state of the art hotels that attract tourists worldwide. Among the most beautiful sites in Paris, there are the Eiffel tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Aside from the beauty, Paris also has an effect of love. This is an impression that has been set in most peoples minds about the city. The people are often dressed smartly and they are busy looking for love at every corner of the city. All these perceptions and beauty facts have given the city a lasting impression to most visitors who come to enjoy its tranquility. However, there is another side of the city, which normal average people encounter on a daily basis as they go about their normal businesses in life. That side of life has been portrayed in the two movies Camille Claudel and Amelie. The Man Who Could Walk through Walls and The Man on the Boulevard are the books, whose authors have also described Paris from a different view.


Camille Claudel is a movie that focuses on a young woman, who is passionate about art and chooses to live her life in solitude, doing what the society considers as inappropriate for any decent woman. In the late 19th century, an independent woman was not easily accepted by the society. Despite all the pressures, Camille Claudel leaves her life oblivious of her surrounding world. The first time she catches the public eye is at a construction site in Paris, when grubbing in the soil in a ditch, looking for fine clay to make her sculptures. She portrays a woman with a vision. As she stands up from the ditch and wipes off the sweat on her brow with her dirty hands, her eyes can be seen to visualize her sculptures from the raw clay already. The society does not appreciate women as sculptors, but Camille Claudel is determined to change the world. At her 30s, she gets nominated for an Academy Award as a result of her fine art. Her teacher at the Academy is Auguste Rodin, who pays little attention to her at the start. Rodin is a well known womanizer. Camille, unaware that Rose Beuret is his mistress, wonders whether they are a married couple.

Camille makes a foot from marble that Rodin gives her. He acknowledges her art as stylish and they start to like each other. They get very attracted to each other and, eventually, get intimate. When Camille gets pregnant, everything becomes complicated as Rodin is not ready to leave his longtime mistress Rose. Unfortunately for Camille, Rodin does not value an independent woman, especially the one who is his artistic competitor. He considers her as a woman who deserves only to be allowed to grow to a point where he is able to slap her back into his bed. The short affair with Rodin serves as derailment to Camille. She is a strong willed woman who decides to go out of her way to pay for her work. Life changes gradually for the worst. After such experience, she moves into a shanty lodging, sleeps hungry, and runs out of fuel. With her life going downhill, she begins to drink and neglects herself.

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From the images of Camille in the movie, she is possessed. Her eyes look haunted and through her activities, her body posture suggests the poise of the creature at the ditch in the construction site, burrowing for fine clay. She puts sculpture before everything else in her life, a determination that makes everyone think of her as possessed.

Amelie is another film that gives the contrasting view of the Paris from what most people think. The movie is about the story of a girl who is locked out of the public world by her father who thinks she has heart problems. Amelie lives a life of her own, dreaming of beauty and love. When she becomes old enough to leave home, she moves to central Paris and gets a job as a waitress at Montmartre cafe. She finds a long-lost treasure belonging to the former occupant of her apartment and returns it to him. He is very happy about it and this reaction touches Amelie. She decides to devote her life to making people happy.

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Amelie sets out on different escapades, acting as the godmother of the rejected. She anonymously helps people who are her acquaintances using her tricks and fantasy. She gets her father to use his garden gnome while travelling abroad. She assists a neighbor regarded an outcast and lonesome painter and the woman that desires her treacherous husband. She also helps her hypochondriac friend and colleague who works in the tobacco shop and the man that stalks his ex-girlfriend, acting like a cupid. She also plays a trick on an employer who mistreats his employee using an abusive relationship. Amelie stops her god motherly deeds after finding the album of a fascinating collector who collects rejected photos. She interacts closely with him and finally she falls in love with him. She accomplishes her heart desires when she finally finds love (Claudio Carvalho).

These two films are about women, who experienced something different from what society expected. In the first movie, Camille was a sculpture, unlike many peoples expectations. In the second one, Amelie went out of her way to help those people that were rejected and weird. The two films portray art in a different perspective. The directors of the films relate solitude to uniqueness. Both characters in the firms develop their unique likings from their loneliness. They do what most people consider as abnormal. The movies have a dream-like quality and may appear unreal in some aspects.

The book The Man Who Walked through Walls also relates to Paris and its undisclosed life. Dutilleul is a young man who has a rare talent of passing through walls with no difficulty. He discovers his talent just after he turns 42 years. He resists the impulses of his imagination and has little interest in adventure; therefore, he rarely uses his talent intentionally. It is not until he is harassed by his boss at work that he uses his talent to frighten him. This experience becomes the start of Dutilleuls adventure. He starts to feel a need for expansion, a growing desire to fulfill and surpass himself, and a certain bittersweet pull, something like the call of the other side of the wall. Unfortunately, what he lacks is a goal. He seeks inspiration by reading the newspaper. He pays exceptional attention to the politics and sports sections, as these seem to be honorable activities. However, in the end, he realizes that they really do not offer any opportunities for people who could walk through walls. This is when he decides to be a police blotter, signing off as The Lone Wolf. He loses his talent one day when he swallows medication to cure his condition and is finally imprisoned in a stone wall (Marcel Ayme).

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The second book is The Man on the Boulevard. It talks of a man who lives a double life. Louis Thouret is found dead in an alley and investigations on his murder begin. It is discovered that his wife is not aware that he lost his job and has been dressing up for work, only to go and sit on a bench in the neighborhood. Louis Thourets companion is found and admits to committing day time burglaries with Louis. It is found out that Louiss daughter, Monique, knew her fathers secrets and had been extorting money from him to keep them. It is eventually discovered that the murder was committed by the owner of the boarding house. He had stolen Thourets money and killed him to cover up for the stealing (Tout Simenon).

The two stories from the book are about people living double lives. They have secrets about their daily lives which affect them in the end. In Dutilleuls case, he dies after revealing that he is the Lone Wolf and swallows the medication to cure his illness unknowingly. Thourets secrets are known by his daughter and her boyfriend, and this secrecy causes his mysterious death. The writers value the aspect of mystery in the stories. The characters portray their personality as lonely people in all cases but they have unhidden lives.


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