Monte-Carlo and films
Nestled on a rock and overlooking a velvet sea, Monaco offers a dreamlike setting where the unique light reveals the architecture of Belle Epoque buildings, finds its way into the small streets and illuminates the exceptional landscapes. It is only natural that the Principality has always fascinated film-makers who have always appreciated its exceptional setting.
Three years after the first showing of the film La sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon (Workers leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon), the Concours de Photographie Filmée de Monaco (Monaco Motion Picture Competition) which, in 1898, heralded the standardisation of motion picture film confirmed during the 1909 Paris Congress. But it was not until 1913 that Monte-Carlo made its actual film-making debut when the first big international film star Max Linder settled there to shoot one of the feature-length films featuring the character Max, the elegant dandy with the zany adventures, who made the actor so successful.
From that moment on, film-making took up residence on the Rock, which became the theatre of grand premieres. On 19 February 1923, the post office cinema showed The Real Glory, the first film in Natural Colour. In 1931, an exclusive European showing of Charlie Chaplin‘s City Lights took place at the Cinéma des Beaux-Arts equipped with air-conditioning and sound projectors from the United States. A few months earlier, the same cinema-theatre showed The King of Jazz in the presence of Mistinguett, Somerset Maugham, Jules Berry, Yvonne Printemps and Sacha Guitry, who found in the Casino de Monte-Carlo and the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo instant backdrops for his film Roman d’un tricheur (Confessions of a Cheat) released in 1936.
That was the first of a long series of films and film scenes shot in the Casino de Monte-Carlo, the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, the Monte-Carlo Beach and the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. These legendary and emblematic establishments have since become the locations of choice for many directors searching for genuinely dreamlike settings for films that are as different from each other as they are great, including To Catch a Thief by Alfred Hitchcock (1955), La Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) by Jacques Demy (1963), Never Say Never Again by Irvin Kershner (1983), Ocean’s Twelve by Steven Soderbergh (2004), Iron Man by Jon Favreau (2008), HeartBreaker by Pascal Chaumeil (2010) and several James Bond films. Although the styles vary, they have all soaked up the Principality’s unique ambience.
After a century of film-making in Monaco and to mark Monte-Carlo SBM’s 150th anniversary, students from the FACTORY film school in Lyon have created Monte-Carlo fait son Cinéma (Monaco Takes to the Big Screen), a film of films featuring a compilation of clips shot in the Principality and directed in the Christian Marclay style.