‘BEFORE SUNSET’ PARIS LOCATIONS
Richard Linklater’s romantic trilogy weaves together the travel preface and the daydreamer emotive power. The eventful decades of the life of the main characters are to come into focus in the wings of the walking-like dialogues in the frame of a single day. Subsequent to an undreamed-of Vienna, ancestral patrimony of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the second movie fascinates us with another architectural and cultural icon of Europe. PARIS. The film narrative conveys the impression of continuity of the promenade fill and key with the filming locations, fading once place into another. Along with that, tailing the footsteps of Jesse and Celine across Paris would devote more time, as well as thoughtfulness and sessions of precise look at the map of the city. The ‘Before sunset’ movie invents its own version of Paris, the second to none cinematic reality, its own capital city of France, yet without defusing the virtues of the story if not giving a vivid accent.
‘SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY’ BOOK STORE
The curtain-raiser of the second chapter of the iconic story by Richard Linklater springs up with Jesse on his own, gathered around by the admires of bookish leisure time in the heart of Paris. That June 1994 walking promenade across the Vienna had not only left him a bulk of memories to turn them into a novel but also changed Jesse’s life once-for-all-time. The ablazing the reflections on our life through the keyhole and the autobiographical nature of all our stories, Jesse loses his confident pace of speech, once he notices the semi-conscious fraction of the past: Celine in person. The once romanticized (by means of time, self imagination, and the novel) character unexpectedly comes into focus. Unless the back story from VIENNA, this Paris eye-contact nicely fits the picture of ‘coup de foudre’ or love at first sight. The moment, when you confusedly compile the thoughts and pronounce some thoughts to turn the situation into something beyond unease.
The unexpected acquaintance between Jesse and Celine came through the reality among the shelves of the ‘SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY’ bookstore, had been winning the enthusiasm of writers and book readers for more than half a century. Celine makes an easy confession, that ‘Shakespeare and Co’ is no less than her favorite bookish shrine in Paris and she was indeed amazed to reveal a book, had been written about one day in Vienna. A semi-anecdotic reminiscence on Jesse’s night next to the book worms is neither more nor less than a tribute to a tradition of shelter for travelers. The bookstore and consequently the starting point of the movie route could be easily found at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, the very heart of Paris and virtually across the Seine river to the iconic ‘Notre Dame de Paris’. The sorcery of cinematic perception would trustily conceal the fact that it is no far than a few hundred meters our characters would later take the riverboat transport. All while Celine and Jesse are shyly keeping the dialogue ball rolling at the front of the bookstore, the famous CITE island could be easily identified on the background as well as the Eastern wing of the magnet-like cathedral. The very bookstall has changed slightly since the summer 2003 (period of filming) and a sidewalk cafe still appease tourists next to it.
The upcoming promenade originates just a few steps away from the entrance to ‘SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY’. Celine gently lays a course of the walking to a cozy cafe nearby. The side street is known as Rue Saint-Julien le Pauvre, named after the Church of the XII century of the same name, a landmark, that will also become a part of the scene a few minutes later. It extends for no more than 100 meters, yet a convenient occasion to recall the 1994 promise to meet again at the railway station of Vienna. Jesse and Celine lead their slow-pace way to Rue Galande sidewalk, a street with a myriad of shops and cafes. The scene is being shaped until the very moment when cinematic magic takes us to another location.
RUE DES JARDINS ST PAUL — CHARLEMAGNE — EGINHARD
Celine leads away to a turn to the right and the semi-improvised promenade is to be endured along with a metal enclosure, another Parisian church, and a succession of turns and narrow sidewalks. The ‘BEFORE SUNSET’ story sensifies the natural continuity of the route with a smooth transitioning of the streets the same way it was previously succeeded in Vienna nine years prior to the actual event. The long-drawn scenes with a minimum of cuts are set to complement the illusion of real-time walking, accessible for any viewer to be recreated within the streets of Paris.
As a matter of fact, the very moment Celine leads our way to turn right from Rue Galande street, the movie geography plays a double-game and takes us on the other bank of the Seine river, this time across Saint-Louis island, located to the East of Cite. The characters find themselves within ‘RUE DES JARDINS ST PAUL’ street and a long metal palisade separates us from a playing ground and Saint-Paul Saint Louis church in the background. A few minutes later, Jesse and Celine make their way to RUE CHARLEMAGNE and a few steps later to EGINHARD, two short pedestrian sidewalks more like blind alleys.
LE PURE CAFE
The shift of the camera perspective (from the frontal to the behind-the-back position) creates another illusion with the natural sense of the fact, that out characters turn aside the Eginhard street to find themselves in front of the desired cafe. In sober fact, Parisian ‘Le Pure’ cafe is located nothing less than half an hour distanced from the very arc (Eginhard) and close to Celine’s home, which would not be seen until the final phase of the story. Two lovebirds come open with a mutual confession, that they both happy to live this moment through, even with failed attempts to hide a warming puzzlement. Twosome accommodates within a cafe of a vintage front-side and typical french interior. The upcoming dialogue deepens into the previous nine years, places of residence in New York and the transformation of the appearance. The very scene resembles the one from the first movie with a chatting inside the ‘Sperl cafe’ in the heart of Vienna.
‘COULEE VERTE’ PARK
As they leave ‘Le Pure’ cafe, Celine points out some new direction beyond the current perspective with a fresh idea to spend some time within a Parisian park, later happened to be one of the jewels of the whole promenade. It appears that ‘Coulée Verte René-Dumont’ in some way overhangs the city with as small crowdedness of people, that two loving birds can touch the more intimate issues. The night in Vienna park is not to shy away from and each of two in fact (the story would correct this misleading later) has its own memories on the same occasion. A few hours later Celine would make a confession, that it was more than hard for her to admit the importance of that single night in Austria, an event, that has changed her life and worldview once at all.
‘Coulée Verte René-Dumont’ park is to be found over a significant distance from ‘Le Pure’ cafe to be pointed out by Celine’s finger. One can enter this narrow walking area of 5 km long by means of a few entrances. The main characters use stairs next to Voie AA/12 passage, at a short distance from the ‘Gare de Lyon’ train station. The initial perspective places us above the street and later Jesse and Celine lead their way in the Western direction. They make the way across a cozy bridge above the streets and between two buildings, a place that is to be easily recognized once you reach the park.
The last shots within an add-on park are to be succeeded by another location once again close enough to the Seine river. Richard Linklater has not so much reflected the actual geography of Paris, as he created his own cinematic version. It would demand you at least one hour of walking to cover the distance between the steps of the ‘Coulee Verte’ park and the riverwalk with ‘Notre-Dame’ in the background, thus on the opposite bank of the river. This very paseo with skeletons of bikes and motorbikes taken out of the water is to be found across the endpoints of Cite and Saint-Louis islands. Jesse and Celine satisfy the view over ‘Ponte de Archeveche’ bridge with a riverboat at the ‘Port de Montebello’ pier. Nowadays, the iconic Cathedral (Notre-Dame), the old-time jewel of Paris, is concealed behind the construction scaffolds and multiple ranks of the barbed fence. Relatedly the amazing panorama over the Seine is nowhere than at one’s own place.
Celine avows herself with the truth that she has not ever taken advantage of the riverboats, conventionally full of tourists. One of the brief moments of this inspiring river ride over the Seine would compliment the story with a famous sunset scene, which could be easily recognized due to the movie poster. We are left open-mouthed with a hypnogenic panorama over ‘Notre-Dame de Paris’, recipient sensitive to a semi-legend story on how the iconic landmark was preserved from the destruction by its own beauty. All while the riverboat makes its move in a direction away from the Cite island, out couple would later float under ‘Ponte Notre-Dame’, a bridge of self-explanatory name on the opposite side towards the island.
The two love birds come into open with new confessions with failed attempts to hide the feelings as far as their Seine transport moves closer to the next stop. They found themselves within a pier next to ‘Quai Henri IV’. The far background reveals the southern peaked side of the Saint-Louis island, as well as ‘Barye square’, triangular park along the water. Taking the perspective to the right, we can satisfy with the view over the ‘Sully’ bridge. Taking a few steps along the river line of the pier, Jesse and Celine finally get into a car, assigned to take the writer to the airport. The transport makes its way to the ‘Quai Henri IV’ riverwalk.
The next few minutes inside the moving car galvanically reveals the most emotional dialogue of the recent hours of promenading across Paris. Subsequently to new revelations on the Vienna experience, Jesse admits being fascinated with this unexpected acquaintance with no fear of the fact that Celine had had all chances to become the maniac-like depressive activist. The car comes to Celine’s home in Paris and moves into an arc. This location could be found at ‘Rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine’ street and the arc has changed slightly since summer 2003, the time ‘before sunset’ movie was filmed. The considerate observer has all changes to reveal the wooden tablet with an inscription: ‘COUR DE L’ETOILE D’OR’, can be translated as ‘The Court of the golden star’. A number of cozy courtyards have been historically located here within a kind of a residential commune and the entrance arc is to be often closed, yet I was lucky enough to follow the very route, once Celine and Jesse made.
The final scene of the Paris promenade covers only a few dozens of meters along with the courtyards. The couple gets acquainted with welcoming neighbors and pets and the upcoming flight is to be regarded as less and less concern. The very entrance to the residential house has changed a little since 2003 and the stairs are to look as scuffed and tatty as the movie depicted, yet with its own Parisian atmosphere. The location symbolizes the end of the second chapter of the incredibly romantic story, the mutual movie journey of Jesse, Celine, Richard Linklater, and each of us.