Louvre City

La ville Louvre

Year: 1990
Country: France
Running time: 84 mins
Production co: Les Films d’ici/Le Musee de Louvre/La Sept/Antenne 2/Intermedia
Photography: Daniel Barrau, Richard Copans, Frederic Labourasse, Eric Milot,
Eric Pittard
Editors: Marie H. Quinton, Monique Bouchilloux
Music: Philipe Hersant

Festivals: Toronto, Vancouver 1991; Prix Europa (Best Documentary) 1990
“The Louvre Museum is the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and, much more recently, Pei’s Pyramid. It is also 12,000 employees from the curator to the guards, encompassing picture restorers, locksmiths, tapestry weavers, acousticians, physicians and chemists, cooks and even twenty firefighters. Nicholas Philibert guides us through a tour of this ‘hidden face’ of the Louvre, showing the work and the life behind the scenes. There is no commentary. Rather Philibert, with his attentive, humorous gaze, captures gestures, looks and conversations, uncovering the hidden mysteries of the place.” — Francoise Maupin

“This is a witty and light-hearted investigation of an enormous institution from behind the scenes. From the restoration workshops to the control rooms, from the paint stores to the attendant’s cloakrooms, we dive into the day-to-day life of one of the largest museums in the world. New galleries are opened, new works of art are hung, fire extinguishers are tested, and new uniforms are tried out as the museum prepare for another season of tourists. In this inner sanctum, giant marble heads swing through the air and curators fiddle with the placement of priceless paintings as we would hang prints on our living room walls. As a documentary, the film is spectacularly controlled and wonderfully observed. Without relying on narration or explanatory text, Louvre City delves into the mysteries of the preservation of works of art. Whether tracking through labyrinthine corridors, watching men painstakingly unroll a wall-sized canvas, or looking over the shoulder of an expert restoring a renaissance frame with feather-light shards of golf leaf, we can’t help but be struck by the films’s almost tangible sense of immediacy and revelation.” — Kay Armatage, Toronto Film Festival 1991