It’s that time of year again. 🙂
Any excuse to decorate and I’m happy.
An interesting find from NPR:
****Paris’ public urinals, seen here in an 1876 photograph by Charles Marville, helped cement its reputation as the most modern city in the world.
Charles Marville/Musee Carnavalet/Roger-Viollet
A city under construction — and destruction — is currently on view at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. “Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris” is a collection of 19th-century photographs of one of the world’s most beloved cities as it transitioned from medieval architectural hodgepodge to what became the City of Light.
The images were taken by photographer Charles Marville, who, according to an 1854 self-portrait, was short — a bit under 5 feet 2 inches — with a flowing mustache, blue eyes and a little bit of a potbelly.
Marville made more than 425 photographs of the narrow streets and crumbling buildings of premodern Paris, including this view from the top of Rue Champlain in 1877-1878. Charles Marville/Musee Carnavalet/Roger-Viollet
With his large-format 8-by-10 camera, glass plates and natural light, Marville captured a sepia-toned Paris
“He’s showing parts of the city at the moment before their disappearance,” says curator Sarah Kennel.
Napoleon III was determined to make Paris into the world’s most modern city, and he charged urban planner Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann with the task. In the early 1860s, Marville was commissioned to document the process, or, as Kennel describes it, “to create a record of the material culture of a city that would soon be destroyed.”
“That’s why I think his photographs were also so powerful,” she says. “He’s so conscious of taking down every detail of the streets, of the street signs, of the reflections in the window, of the shape of the cobblestones, because this is going to be the record of this place.”
Paris at that time was, as someone delicately put it, “a giant hole of putrefaction.”
“The sewer system was almost nonexistent,” Kennel says, “so people would just throw the muck out onto the street.”
The elegant gas lamps of Paris’ Haussmann transformation, seen here in 1877-1878, also contributed to its reputation as a modern metropolis.
Charles Marville/The Troob Family Foundation Images/Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
Napoleon and friends put in some outdoor facilities, which Marville photographed. They were called pissoirs, or public urinals: half-circle, high fences on poles with no roof. There wasn’t much privacy, but they covered what needed to be covered — shoulder to knee. And they were certainly more hygienic than sloshing through the muck.
Haussmann had some 20,000 gas lamps installed on Paris streets, many of which Marville also photographed.
“The lamppost, the streets were all situated in perfect harmony,” Kennel says. “And, in fact, the architect was very obsessive, in a way, almost about the height of the lamppost. And if you look down the street, they would all seem like they were at the same height, even if the streets themselves had slightly different heights. So you had some of them up on a little bit of a stilt and other ones cut down a little bit, so that you would see this regularity and harmony and order as you looked down the street.”
Kennel says creating all that symmetry made a bit of a mess: “Paris was one giant construction site at this moment, particularly the center of Paris and the western edge of Paris. And everywhere you went, boulevards were being built, streets were being torn up, whole neighborhoods were being razed.”
Again, Marville shows the evidence in a picture taken on the right bank of the Seine: There’s the river, Notre Dame Cathedral in the far background and a new wing of the Louvre going up along the riverside.
“You can see the banks lined with chunks of quarry stone that are going to be used to build Paris, also enigmatic, covered piles of things,” Kennel says. “And you also get a real sense of how much the Seine was the center of industry.”
This 1854 Marville print shows a new wing of the Louvre being built (left), and the Seine before it underwent its own transformation.
Back then, before Napoleon and Haussmann, the river was the highway — everything went up and down the Seine.
“Then they built all the grand boulevards, and it became a place where now you can take nice, lovely boat rides and look at all the monuments,” Kennel explains.
One of the many miracles of Paris is the history that’s lived with every day. The most modern building will give onto a plaza that’s been in place for centuries; the most glorious old garden has flowers that distract from an ugly new tower. In the 19th century, Marville photographed what was new then, and still delights us now. And, as photographer of Paris, he documented earlier histories before they were erased.*****
“More powerful than even the fear of death itself, is the will to win.”
Throughout most of the movie, I was so lost into the story that it was easy to forget I was watching actual actors, which hasn’t happened to me during a film in many years. Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth nail their roles seamlessly, but more on that later. Peter Morgan assists with impeccably written dialogue, but the director of the film, Ron Howard’s directional abilities tell quite the convincing story. To be fair, this is a movie, not a documentary…but it feels like a documentary as you watch.
In Ron’s interview about recreating Niki’s near fatal Nürburgring crash, he describes filming the haunting scene on the actual track and in the very spot where Niki Lauda crashed. What a fascinating yet terrifying challenge. Ron describes it as an, “extraordinary opportunity” to get it right.
As the safety spokesperson for the drivers, the real Niki Lauda called a meeting of his fellow racers in an attempt to have the race at Nürburgring stopped, but many of his fellow drivers didn’t agree. In the end, he lost by one vote and was left with little choice but to race. It would be the last Formula One race ever run on that track at Nürburgring.
Niki Lauda explained his will to survive in the hospital after his horrible crash:
“When I came to the hospital. You feel like you are very tired, and you would like to go and sleep,” says Lauda, “but you know it’s not just go and sleeping. It’s something else. And then you just fight with your brain. You hear noises and you hear voices, and you just try to listen to what they are saying and you try to keep your brain working to get the body ready to fight against illness. … I did that and that way I survived.”
In his first meeting with director Ron Howard, Daniel proves his ability to play the sometimes egotistical Niki Lauda.
“And then I felt confident, and I realised that Ron liked me, I had half an hour with him that turned into an hour – and I became a bit cocky. I hadn’t prepared my Austrian accent, but I thought “They’re Americans and English, they won’t be able to tell the difference!” So I began to talk in a fake Austrian accent, to show Ron the difference – and Peter Morgan all of a sudden replies, in polished Viennese, that this is a bullshit Austrian accent! “
Daniel Brühl delivers the difficult role of Niki Lauda with a sort of contradictory ease. He’s cold and calculating, but likable. I found myself cheering him on even before his accident. Daniel actually becomes Niki Lauda.
Daniel Brühl’s intelligence and understanding of F1 racing, had me rooting for him long before his crash depicted in the film. Niki believed in himself and won because he could prove his capabilities not just through the actual act of racing, but the statistics of the field and the mechanics behind the machine.
Chris Hemsworth is beautiful, yet somehow believable as James Hunt. Maybe it’s because he is depicted as a playboy with a conscious, but it’s more than that. His spirit. Chris offers a spirit into the role of James Hunt that would make a ghost jealous. It isn’t about the drama of the sport for James. It’s simply about the skill and thrill of the track and crossing the finish line first. James Hunt was a prankster. In Madrid, Spain on May 2, 1976, James Hunt took the win over Niki Lauda at the Spanish Grand Prix. James Hunt’s car was disqualified after it was found to be 1.8 centimeters too wide. Hunt’s points were given to Lauda. McLaren and Hunt appealed the decision, arguing that the difference had not affected the performance of the car, to which Lauda and Ferrari grossly disagreed. McLaren won the appeal and Hunt’s points were reinstated. As a joke, Hunt was later filmed polishing a sign on the back of his car that read, “Caution Wide Vehicle”.
Sure, James Hunt was a playboy. He was also a F1 driver who drove with his heart for what he believed to be the true nature of the very idea of what it was to be a Formula 1 driver. Statistics mattered not to him. He’d give his life for a win therefore making odds obsolete. His instincts were in the moment, on the track, in that instant. He drove to drive. With that, came victory.
Niki looked to the entire track, the actual mechanics of the race. He understood the machine. More than that, though…he was able to analyze the fear. He said before his near fatal Nürburgring crash, “I accept that every time I get into my car, there’s 20% chance I could die and I could live with it, but not one percent more! And today with the rain, the risk is more.” Niki knew the parts of the actual race car so well, he could see what no one else could and make an adjustment to a vehicle to shave off 2 seconds of lap time. Niki Lauda: “To be a champion, it takes more than just being quick. You have to really believe it.” In Nikki’s extensive knowledge of statistics, he held the advantage as a global thinker who had the concrete knowledge, and solid foundation of understanding that determined his courage to win.
Niki and James were flatmates early in their careers and not completely the rivals depicted. Theirs was a healthy rivalry. Each knew the risks involved and oddly enough, each respected the other for the decisions they made yet couldn’t quite understand. When James Hunt saw Niki Lauda at the 1976 Italian Grand Prix, James said, “I feel responsible for what happened.” Niki answered, “Trust me. Watching you win those races while I was fighting for my life, you were equally responsible for getting me back in the car.”
Underneath the rivalry is a mutual respect for each other. Speaking of the last time Nikki saw James, he said that James was still living each day like his last. Nikki said, “People always think of us as rivals. But he was among the very few I liked and even fewer that I respected. He remains the only person I envied.”
If you’d like, you may watch the trailer for the film, here. I suggest the 2:29 trailer on the right. It’s the most comprehensive and explains the best.
I don’t recommend films often, but Rush definitely has my stamp of approval. Whatever that’s worth. 🙂
Arantxa is a nationally published photojournalist. Her most recent project is titled, “Broken Rules” and is featured in an NPR article titled, “Women Who Broke The Rules in Nepal.” It is a tribute to the women who have shown courage and determination in a highly conservative country. She says it interested her because it’s a country in constant political turmoil, as well as “one of the most beautiful corners of the world.”
According to the article, “Instead of a traditional plain backdrop, Cedillo used intricate hand-painted tapestries that are traditional in Nepalese formal portraiture. Arantxa says, “The photographs are always placed in special corners of houses and usually the people wear traditional clothes and display very serious expressions,” she said. “I decided to reverse that common form of portraiture, allowing each woman to represent herself, thereby opening a visual debate of what being a woman means in a changing society like Nepal.” Arantxa goes on to describe the women she photographed. “They are symbols of resistance, courage and determination in a country that still suffers from repression and where men still have the last word. They have also become my heroes.”
Rarely do I advertise, but I think this is an incredible organization. 1% for the Planet was created 10 years ago by a mountain climber and a fisherman. The mountain climber, Yvon Chouinard, a phenomenal man I have mentioned before and his good friend, the fisherman, Craig Mathews created a non profit organization with a mission to build, support and activate an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet.
Theirs is a, “platform of credibility and engagement for environmentally conscious brands that are truly committed to making a positive impact with their business. This global movement of more than 1,100 member companies in 48 countries donate one percent of annual sales directly to approved environmental organizations worldwide.”
If reading isn’t your thing, check out their 3 minute video explaining their project.
1% for the Planet just celebrated their 10 year anniversary and more than $100 million invested in positive environmental change by their member companies. If you’re a company or you run your own business, I encourage you to check out this incredible organization.