Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Louxor – a cinema reborn

The architectural language of Classical Greece is heavy with a sense of authority and power but that of Ancient Egypt is indelibly associated with either fun and frivolity or the curious world of freemasonry. Egyptiana is one of the most fundamentally impure architectural styles and finds its place in shopping arcades, theatres and cinemas, where it is viewed with either indulgence or offence depending on your predisposition. The refined and incorruptible eye will see a promiscuous assemblage of dubious decorative devices while the hedonistically inclined will see something cheap and cheerful, unashamedly designed to please. 

The Louxor Palais du Cinéma on Boulevard de Magenta (at the Barbès-Rochechouart intersection) opened in 1921 as a dazzling example of Egyptian-inspired Art Deco. It prospered for many decades but time ran out in 1983 when it closed and became, for a while, part of the Tati empire that flourishes on the north side of the crossroads. After years of campaigning by local interest groups the City of Paris funded a programme of renovation that began in 2010 and finished in April 2013 when the Louxor reopened to great acclaim. Every cornice, every lotus leaf and every palm motif meticulously restored. The cinema programming reflects the ethnically diverse character of the locality and has brought much needed community enhancement to one of the least prosperous areas of the city. At the end of this post we offer a brief home-made video portrait of this never less than exhilarating intersection where Parisian drivers, bikers and cyclists put on a magnificent display of manoeuvring at the outer limits of safety. 

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