Computer Generated Tourism

January is the month of yearly reviews, a month during which companies and journalists look back at the previous 12 months and consider the highlights of the year and try to isolate trend and learnings. Back in December I came across Allocine podcast, a website that provides everything about cinema, from trailers to schedules to forums and news. I immediately subscribed to both the British and French editions and have since been catching up with the latest movie gossips while in the tube.

One mouse-click to Paris

Last week, in its daily show,
Allocine was coming back on the 2007 box-office results. I then realised that the feature which outperformed all movies in France last year was Ratatouille, the CGI movie by Disney's Pixar. Beyond the cute little story about tolerance, self-confidence and culinary art, this animation has been doing a great job to rehabilitate long outcast rats (which became the #1 pets in 2007) and to promote Paris through magnificent scenes. I must admit that Pixar artists did really a great job to magnify the beauty of the City of Lights, and even managed to make me feel home-sick for a while...

But the little rat was not the only cartoon to make its way to the top of the charts: the yellow icons of the Generation X did a great job too. Marge, Homer, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, a.k.a. the Simpsons, were not to be missed when they made their way from the TV screen to the cinemas. Some could argue that Hollywood did a little too much to promote this film with their advertising, experiential marketing, PR, digital communication... Did they overkill it? I don't think so, but you must acknowledge that they were everywhere. Even in Paris, for the Fashion Week.

The Yellow Wave

In 2007, The Devil could no longer wear Prada: it was so last year. So he must have read Harper’s Bazaar August 07 edition to renew his wardrobe. The magazine partnered with Matt Groening to promote the highlights of this year catwalks. And the results is fantastic: how does Homer look in Karl Lagerfeld? Does Jean-Paul Gaulthier suit Marge? And what about Lanvin necklaces on Lisa?

"The Simpsons Go to Paris with Linda Evangelista" from Harper's Bazaar
(more similar illustrations by Julius Preite
here, and real life collection here)

So it seems that 2007 was all about animation and being seen in Paris if you wanted to be a cinematographic success. And yet, another cartoon made a "carton" last year in France (sorry for the pun... "faire un carton", literally "hit the cardboard target" or be a smashing hit). But this one did not take place in Paris, nor was it yellow, and it was certainly not generated by thousands of rendering machine... It is a black and white animation describing the true story of an outspoken Iranian girl, Marjane Astrapi, forced to leave her country by the Islamic Revolution and the Iraq-Iran war.

Although more modest than the two American blockbusters', I think Persepolis success was a great performance... Not only was this film acclaimed by the industry with several awards in Cannes, Toronto, NY and possibly at the Academy Awards where it will represent France, but it also met a great response from the public. Politically-engaged, artistic independent films still have a word to say... And that is exciting.

So if you could not see the film in cinema, you will soon be able get the DVD or if you prefer to read the original comic novel it is available on Amazon (sorry, I literally read it in a night, not having time to add it to the "On my bedside table" section of this blog):

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