This is the third time I talk about the “104” (see here and here for previous posts), since 2008 a City of Paris artistic center, after renovation of the buildings which for more than a century had been the place of the municipal undertaker services. I return now and then for different expositions and cultural events. This time it was for a ”Gaumont” exhibition.
“Gaumont” celebrates its 120 years of existence. It’s actually the world’s oldest film company, created in 1895 (Universal and Paramount were not, for example, not founded until 1912). It got its name from its creator, Léon Gaumont (1864-1946). I’m not going to tell the whole story of the company here, just mention that it of course often has suffered from different economic crises (wars, depression…) … But, today it’s still there after merging with “Pathé”, previously a competitor, created one year later than “Gaumont” by the brothers Pathé.
Starting by dealing in photographic equipment and soon in films, they also own(ed) and manage(d) a number of cinema theaters in France and abroad, including what once was the world’s biggest one and on which I posted here.
The exposition allows you to watch extracts of some of the hundreds of films that the company has produced, partly in their own studios. (For a small fee you can also watch complete movies.)
There are panels where you can study the history of the company, illustrated by posters. I will not list all the movies they have produced, maybe just mention “Les tontons flingueurs” (Crooks in Clover) from 1963 (see top picture), a French “classic”, and “Intouchables” from 2012, obviously the world’s highest-grossing non English-speaking movie.
You can watch the portraits of all the “stars” in light and sound.
One room exhibits a large number of costumes and extracts of films are projected.
There is a demonstration of the “diorama” (invented by Daguerre), a popular predecessor to the cinema during the 19th century, a photo of Léon Gaumont in company with one of the Lumière brothers (in their older days) …
… and a lot of old equipment…
… including a beautiful combined lamp and loudspeaker, produced by Gaumont.
Before closing this post, a few pictures of other ongoing activities at the “104”, shops, a yellow container where you can exchange books … and a bar.
And last: At the moment you can also admire “La Cabeza” de Niki de Saint-Phalle, one of her last works. Inspired by Mexican folklore. It’s giant and you are allowed to touch it, go inside…