From James Bond to the Bronzés: why the mountain is an ideal fictional setting

Back to mountain time is approaching. To be patient, we look at the mountain in the 7th art.

With its spectacular panoramas, its blue skies, its slopes so white, its vegetation so special, the mountain is a wonderful backdrop for the cinema. From a holiday resort, it has become a perfect setting for different types of cinema. So we put on our skis, we put on our snowshoes, in pursuit of 007 and Jean-Claude Dusse.

Back to mountain: a sumptuous teaser for a dizzying film

1 / Because we shiver (The Crimson Rivers).

It is in the commune of Chamonix that the survey of Purple Rivers takes place in part. More precisely around the Aiguille des Grands Montets and the Mer de Glace. Grangé readers still remember the story: when a corpse is found perched on rocks, above the university campus of Guernon (an imaginary city, located near Grenoble), Paris sends a lone cop. Because he is gifted, but above all to keep him away from the capital. This borderline policeman then discovers a region, rough, steep. A corner especially where one crosses solid mountain people; big arms and full heads. From there to imagine eugenic theories … Kassovitz captures the outskirts of Grenoble and its special atmosphere wonderfully. The sculptural summits which dominate it, the vestiges of an obsolete industry which continue to darken it, and the waters of the Drac or the Romanche, which pass from the summits to the valley faster than the climbers and the cable cars. The investigation also goes through Annecy (and its canals which give it “false airs of Amsterdam”)… and gives the mountain a dark and disturbing image.


2 / Because we laugh there – with family or friends (The Bronzés go skiing)

So, is that farte? The mountain is not only these steep mountains and these distressing landscapes. It’s not just the speed, the free-ride or the sorry concrete remnants. It is also the community life, the descent in snowplough, the exhilaration of the altitude (and good wine) or the nights of waiting on the chairlift (you understood us). In short, it is also the friendly altitude stations, the village atmosphere, foam evenings, toad alcohol, Savoyard fondue and… Gigi crêpe. A resort and the arena of sport-king. In Tanned people go skiing, Patrice Leconte, a fine sociologist, used to satire the French on vacation (his emptiness, his meanness, his ridiculousness) and used the setting of a super resort (Val d’Isère in this case) to tell the small happiness and the inconvenience winter sports. The falls, the blocked ski lifts, the boring instructor, the avalanche, the hike doomed to failure, the lodge promised to the worst crowds … Yes, but in joy and good humor: it’s still in Val D ‘Isère that the “Sweet madness” was launched!

3 / Because it’s a perfect “playground” (the James Bond saga)

James Bond without a streak in the snow? And why not without vodka martini or without his DB5 while we’re at it! Normal after all: skiing is speed, danger, elegance. In one number, 007. And if it was not until 1969 that Bond put on spatulas (In the secret service of his majesty), from there the ski chase scenes will become an integral part of the saga. Several of them have also become legendary. Among the best moments of gliding in Bond, we will remember the pursuit of World is not enough. Pierce Brosnan and Sophie Marceau on skis are chased by hitmen on snowmobiles. Shot in Burzier, a small resort in Haute-Savoie, the sequence skilfully highlights this still wild environment, conducive to all kinds of thrills and which allows to exhibit the alpine phlegm of the British spy (even if his suit is too tight for him). gives a little 90s and feminine side). Jumping over bumps, slalom between the pines, unpinning grenades exploding the slopes… It’s a festival of action, skids and sculls. For the anecdote, it is the freestyle ski champion Candice Gilg who had played the liners for Sophie Marceau. Two years before, Brosnan was already spending his holidays in the snow, but in the Pyrenees. In Peyragudes to be precise, where the impressive images of the pre-credits of Tomorrow never dies. Explosions, flyovers by fighter planes, flight into mountains that seem cut off from the world… the images shot in the Pyrenees combined realism and majesty. Very, very impressive.

4 / Because it is a setting that increases the emotions tenfold (Belle and Sébastien and Malabar Princess) and

The mountain is also contemplation, and, in fact, an ideal setting for transmitting sensations. Take Belle and Sébastien. We know by heart the story of this beautiful friendship between a dog and a little boy. But what makes the strength of the story is the setting. The slate roofs, the alleys of an old stone village, the red mountain that winter covers with snow… It is the immensity of the alpine landscapes that gives oxygen to this plot reduced to a few very simple emotions . In his cinema adaptation, Nicolas Vannier had chosen to film in a very wide shot. He captured in a vibrant way the flowery plains, the rock that outcrops in the meadows, the rumbling torrents. We entered the story with this eagle with outstretched wings, which seemed to come out of the screen and invite the viewer to change air.

Ditto for another mountain film, Malabar Princess. Inspired by a real news item (the crash of the Malabar Princess, an Indian plane, in the Mont Blanc massif), the film tells the story of a child who seeks to find his missing mother. Faced with the immensity of the mountains (the film was shot between Chamonix, Argentière and La Plagne), the sadness of this little boy resonates with the immensity of the landscapes. The hardness of the mountains, their immaculate whiteness, highlights the dismay of the orphan taken in by a gruff but loving grandfather …

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