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Fantasmagories par Esprit de France

The foundation Jerôme Seydoux Pathé

A falsely inconspicuous building

The small exhibition currently held in the Foundation is a perfect pretext to discover one of the most interesting private places of the capital. It is also one of the most secretive because its narrow entrance located at 73 Avenue des Gobelins does not help to infer its real originality. A small theater built in 1869 by the architect Alphonse Cusin, later converted into a cinema, whose façade is the work of a great sculptor, Auguste Rodin, who was still a student at the Beaux-Arts at the time. It is decorated with two languid figures on each side of a semicircular-shaped high arch characterizing the entrance vault: the masculine one symbolizes Drama, the other feminine one Comedy. From this 800-seat Italian theater with two balconies, which became a permanent cinema from 1934 under the name of Gaumont Gobelins-Rodin, today only the classified facade remains. In 2010, it was totally destroyed and the plot thus cleared allowed to build a documentation and research center devoted to the history of cinema. This mission was entrusted to Renzo Piano, the architect of the Centre Pompidou, and he created the surprise: behind the façade he has erected a shell seven storeys high, covered with 5000 protective louvers offering their silvery reflections. Covering the width of the plot, its structure of wood, glass and metal, interacts with the surrounding city and the courtyard garden at the back. The solution is one of total simplicity and sheer elegance.

Outstanding historical collections

fantasmagories_par_esprit_de_franceIt is the historical heritage of Pathé, the famous firm founded by Emile and Charles Pathé who not only produced more than 10,000 films but also made phonographs, cameras and projectors, which can be seen here in the Gallery of motion picture equipment. Two hundred of the four hundred items of the collection are exhibited and tell the story of nearly a century of technical evolution, accompanied by original documentaries showing, for example, Pathé’s women workers colorizing films. Another room is devoted to more temporary thematic exhibitions. The current one, entitled Fantasmagories, showcases the representation of magic and fantasy in cinema at its beginnings. At that time, there is an undeniable taste for staging a magic made of optical effects and technical "tricks" that would today be called "special effects". Meliès, the great director of early cinema, has proved exceptional inventiveness in this field, but he is not the only one, as shown by the variety of posters presented in the exhibition. We like these highly-colored historical posters, those for the Jewel of the Rajah or the Son of the Devil for example.

A program of cinema-concerts

Your visit will be truly complete only if you attend a cinema-concert in the optimal comfort 70-seat screening room which offers a rich program of silent films in accordance with the themes of the exhibition. To revive the magical experience of silent movie screening, the films are accompanied by an improvisation on piano (a partnership with the Conservatoire de Paris) which enables you to fully appreciate this exceptional cinematographic heritage.
When you come out on the avenue, you may be tempted to make a stop at the Mobilier National, whose function is to furnish the palaces and official buildings of the state, while regularly organizing exhibitions highlighting its historical reserves. Unless you prefer the proximity of the floral arrangements of the Jardin des Plantes ...

Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé
73, avenue des Gobelins, Paris 13.
Metros : Place d’Italie, Les Gobelins.
Open from Tuesday to Saturday : Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 1 pm to 7 pm, Friday from 2 pm to 8 pm, Saturday from 11:30 am to 7 pm.
3€ visit without movie, from 4,5 to 6,5 € access to exhibitions + movie showing, 6 € guided tour of the building.
Silent movie showing accompanied by piano on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday at 2 pm and 4 pm, on Wednesday at 2:30 pm, on Friday at 3 pm, 5 pm, 7 pm.

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