7.3/10
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12 user 12 critic

At 3:25 (1924)

Paris qui dort (original title)
Unrated | | Short, Sci-Fi | 1927 (USA)
A scientist's invisible ray freezes Paris into immobility.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Henri Rollan ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Martinelli ...
The scientist (as Martinelli)
Louis Pré Fils ...
Detective
...
Madeleine Rodrigue ...
Hesta, the airline passenger
...
Antoine Stacquet ...
The rich man (as Stacquet)
Marcel Vallée ...
International thief
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Storyline

Early roots of sci-fi magic are given to us in the form of a scientist who invents a ray that makes people caught in its beam fall asleep where they stand. With magical and wonderful shots of a Paris long gone, it is the adventure of a group of unaffected who with their sudden freedoms play the game of mice while the cat is away. With a narrative that sways toward a moralistic stance on the principles of fair play and responsibility, this little science fiction fable can still be poignant today as when the magnificent views were first shot from the dizzy heights of the Eiffel Tower. Written by Cinema_Fan

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Short | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Unrated
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Release Date:

1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

At 3:25  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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This film is featured on the Criterion Collection DVD for Sous les toits de Paris (1930). See more »

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User Reviews

 
Adorable Surrealist flight of fancy.
20 December 2000 | by See all my reviews

The most loveable of all silent masterpieces. It took years for Surrealism to finally mature in the cinema as a powerful artistic presence, as in 'Vertigo', 'Le Samourai' or the late films of Cocteau (of whom much of the imagery of frozen citizens in this is reminiscent). The official Surrealist films of the 1920s, with the exception of Bunuel's, were usually childish trickery, rather than a valid way of looking at, or undermining the world. 'Paris Qui Dort' is different, delicate, beautiful, elegant and funny, it turns reality inside out, making reality a dream, and dream a reality (see the wonderful sequence where the bewildered hero, having roamed through an enchanted Paris, can only find the 'real' city in his head). It is such a lovely idea, the whole of Paris enchanted by sleep, except for those in the air. The hero, due to bad luck, has to live on top of the Eiffel Tower, already cut off from a social context, as with the 'Wizard of Oz'-like band of acquaintances he strikes up - an aviator, an English detective, a notorious criminal, an independent woman (it IS the 1920s!), a blustering tycoon, a mad scientist and his daughter. These are the kind of people who would see life as unreal anyway. The question is: is the city of Paris, with its social order of work, crime and play, dreaming of these outsiders, who play out its desires of independence, wealth, power, freedom; or is it the other way round? For the Surrealists, there was no need to heighten life - it was strange enough as it was. By placing the picture-postcard Paris in a fantastical context; by emphasising the hidden geometry of the city and its buildings; by showing a city, built by people for people, without people, Clair suggests a sublimely suspended dream place, like Tir na nOg, where people never grow old. Tellingly, the old human foibles - greed, lust, jealousy, ennui etc. - threaten to destroy the freedom of the new social order even as it subverts the old one based on those foibles. But Clair subverts this world anyway by revealing the power of film, as the Professor's power over life and movement is Clair's power over his cinematic apparatus, capturing a Paris that sleeps, that never has to die, or admit debilitating transience, by capturing it on his camera. It's only a dream, just as the cinema is a dream before we go back out into the rain, relationships, bills, health. Sometimes you wish time would stop, that the inevitability of progress, and its immovable corollary, decline, could be averted. Clair is the most beloved of the Surrealists, because he knows knockabouts and chases are far more eloquent than portentous, 'meaningful' images.


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