Jun 20, 2013

To Catch A Place

Mythical Monte-Carlo:
150 Years in the Making
FIAF Gallery
Alliance Francaise
Birth of a Legend
written by Kate Krasuski
directed by Francois Freynet

The only meaning Monte Carlo has for me are  images of Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief?  As a child, I was sure my future husband would be a reincarnation of Cary Grant. For years I unconsciously  measured all boyfriends against Cary.  Some were debonair, but not witty.  Some were cool under pressure, but cracked when it came to intimacy.  By the time I met my husband, I had long given up on meeting a Cary-look-alike.  I had happily moved on.

Yesterday, FIAF offered a program in honor of 150th Anniversary of the Principality of Monaco.   The exhibition of photographs by Gabrielle Basilico, commissioned by the principality, concentrated on the urbanization of Monaco. This rocky outcropping has turned into a place as dense as midtown New York.  

Without Monte Carlo, what would Monaco be?  The docudrama, commissioned by Societe des Bains de Mer de Monaco,  written by Kate Krasuski and directed by Francois Freynet, attempted to trace the history of Monte Carlo.  How did it become a playground for the rich and famous?  Using vintage footage, the film answered this question.  Francois Blanc and his wife, Marie were hired in 1866 by Prince Charles III to make Monaco a "gaming destination," bringing people and money to Monaco, a sleepy, poor country.  The husband and wife partnership delivered on the Princess's desire and more. They created Monte Carlo and its wealth.

I took my niece, Lola, who is in the US for a summer work experience with the Vermont Conservation Corp, to the exhibition and film.  Afterwards, we went out to dinner and I asked Lola what she thought of the film.  "It seemed a bit like propaganda.  I liked the docudrama  part.  I thought it was clever to have the recreations in color and the vintage  footage in black and white.  The narrator made one remark that struck me.  In the beginning of the film, the narrator recounts that "Monaco was just lemon and olive trees."  That's NOT  nothing.  I had to agree, what I wouldn't give for a few lemon and olive trees in my backyard.


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