Directed by Amelie Harrault & Valerie Loiseleux • Documentary • 2020 • 51 minutes
Adapted from Dan Franck’s literary trilogy Bohemian Paris, Libertad! and Midnight, the story plunges us into Parisian life at the beginning of the twentieth century, a hotbed of artistic creation with the blossoming of Fauvism, Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Through illustrations, animation and original documents, the 6-part series, which is constructed as a fiction, traces the highs and lows, scandals and celebrations, tragedies and triumphs that shaped the phenomenal period of Modern Art from the basement of the “Bateau-lavoir“ in 1900 to the last shudders of World War II. The infamous protagonists include Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Gertrude Stein, Kiki, André Gide, André Malraux and Robert Capa. All of them artists and intellectuals who came to France from across Europe and left an indelible mark on the 20th century. These glorious subversives were adventurers before becoming heroes.
Episode 3: Paris Capital of the World
On being released from the hospital, Apollinaire discovers what life is like in Paris during the war. In Montparnasse, foreign artists - most of whom are Jewish, having fled the anti-Semitism of Eastern Europe - are dying of hunger. They form the School of Paris.
Soutine, the poorest of the Russian artists, strikes up a friendship with Modigliani, the handsomest of the Italians. In 1917, Apollinaire stages a performance his play Les Mamelles de Tirésias using the subheading “surrealist drama.”
The word “surrealist” is born. It catches on, becoming common currency in art circles around the globe. One year later, Apollinaire succumbs to the Spanish flu. Modigliani passes away on January 24, 1920. His funeral, attended by all the artists of Montparnasse, brings the age of bohemianism to a definitive end.