The use of cityscapes in cinema began in the mid-1920s with Berlin being the birth city of these new types of movies. Since then, cities have provided a production site as well as consumptions and distribution sites. The usage of cities in movies also assists in explaining different emerging issues within the modern urban society. Using cities as sites for shooting movies allows an understanding issues of the public sphere and social space (Mennel 32). Employing city landscape when shooting movies also help in promoting an understanding of modern aesthetics. Linklater’s movie Before Sunset tells a romantic story of two people who reunite after being separated for nine years. While the movie employs overemotional narratives to deliver the main point, the movie also delivers the message of modern aesthetics without relying on a normal narrative. The movie explores different scenarios; therefore, offering a silent description of the social, spatial and aesthetic qualities of Paris.
The movie introduces various scenes that show Paris as a social city. The opening shot provides a sequence of photos showing different areas of Paris (Linklater). Most of the shots presented during this scene are shots of social places, which are open to the public. The first shot also showed how people used the different social spaces. The introductory scene does not show any vehicle, but shows shots of people walking, suggesting that Paris is mainly a walking city. By mainly emphasizing on people on pavements and the roads, the essay may suggest that walking may promote a social society.
Paris’ social aspect is also represented by the many outdoor sitting spaces seen as the two characters are walking through the city. Most of these outdoor sitting areas are located outside shops and cafes and act as outdoor restaurants. These spaces act as social spaces where people meet and get to catch up. Other than the outdoor sitting areas, the movie also involves a scene inside a coffee café (Linklater). The existence of these social places shows the social nature of Paris. Other than the cafes and shops, special areas are also represented by the courtyard and the raised garden in the city.
Linklater’s movie also showed several public places in Paris. The movie involves scenes of a garden where people walk through while enjoying the scenery (Linklater). The garden has a network of pathways which past a series of different plants. The paths provide a privacy, where people can talk without much disturbance. The garden also has isolated sitting areas where people can sit and talk privately. Another public open space in the movie is the river. The river acts as a meeting place for different groups as noted when the couple is going towards the boat. The river also provides a quiet scenery where people can relax as shown by the individual reading the book by the river.
The movie also employs several scenes to show the spatial qualities of Paris. Most of the scenes in the movie involve the characters walking (Linklater). There are minimal cars on the inner roads used by the characters. Most of the roads are used by people walking and a few cyclists. Linklater’s film uses pavements to show how space is used in France. Pedestrians use most of the roads in Paris. The roadsides are also used as parking spots for motorcycles and vehicles. The film shows the parked bikes the cars, which may illustrate a lack of enough space; therefore use of flush parking techniques on the road. The inner roads in the city also only accommodate one car. Accommodating one car shows that the town was mainly planned for walking and not for motor vehicle use.
Another spatial quality of Paris is the availability of the raised garden in the city. The garden provides a space different from the urban space characterized by buildings (Frisby 127), The garden is however located in between two different buildings. The location of the garden shows an integration of nature and urban buildings, showing a unique spatial aspect of Paris. The garden also provides a close place where people can use their phones. The garden provides a quiet space different from the noisy city environments. The streets are also quite quiet, which shows a differentiates them from the main road, which is noisy due to cars.
The existence of large outdoor areas in the residential place also helps to show the spatial quality of Paris. The large outdoor courtyard at the female characters residence illustrates how space is utilized in Paris (Linklater). The large outdoor areas define the different compounds. The outdoor sitting areas and cafe also help to define space within Paris. Most of these outdoor sitting areas set the space occupied by a restaurant and take up space to be used as a walkway. The use of chairs and tables on an outdoor area helps to define social places.
The movie also introduces the aesthetics qualities of Paris. Through the walk in the city, the film shows the viewer several aesthetic sites of the city. The garden is one of the sites that represent the aesthetic qualities of Paris. The garden contains a collection of different plants, which provide a natural scenery. The availability of different flowers next to the pathways creates a colorful landscape. The green fence at the female character’s residence also shows the aesthetic qualities of Paris (Linklater). Even in residential areas, the city still maintains a natural beauty provided by plants. The availability of trees on the roadside also provides an aesthetic and natural feel to the city landscape.
Another aspect of the movie that shows the aesthetic quality of Paris is the architecture shown during the walk around the city. While on the boat, the couple discusses Notre Dame cathedral among other beautiful sights in Paris (Linklater). The boat ride also shows bridges that are quite beautiful; therefore, illustrating the aesthetic qualities of Paris. The movie also introduces the viewer to the Paris streetscape. The types of buildings also reflect a sort of French architecture which is geometric. The buildings also help to express the aesthetic qualities of Paris.
Linklater (2004) movie titled before sunset tells a romantic story of a couple who met for a day in a foreign city then fell apart for nine years. The couple reunites in Paris and spends an afternoon together. This afternoon involves them walking through different streets in Paris. This walk results in the viewers getting to experience a non-verbal story of Paris’ social, aesthetic and spatial qualities. The movie introduces the reader to Spanish architecture as well as city gardens, which all result in a modern day aesthetic look incorporating the natural world and the man-made the world.
Before Sunset. Dir. Richard Linklater. 2004.
Frisby, David. Fragments of Modernity: Theories of Modernity in the Work of Simmel, Kracauer and Benjamin. London: Routledge, 2013. Print.
Mennel, Barbara. Cities and Cinema. London:Routledge, 2008. Print.