Friday, August 24, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities

It has been reported (though apparently the report's veracity is disputed by an Islamic paper, Al-Arabiya) that the Saudi government plans to construct a city whose urban planning will be carefully modelled to facilitate the gender apartheid of Islamic law: A city of women, in effect -- though, needless to say, nothing like the città delle donne of Fellini's feverishly femininophiliac imagination in his 1980 movie by the same name.

Speaking of movies and life imitating art (or, in the Islamic sense, death imitating hell), we are reminded of another city constructed out of thin air, so to speak.

The great comedic film director Jacques Tati constructed an entire (small) city for his 1967 movie  Playtime -- complete with streets, city blocks, shops and office buildings. The faux city was called "Tativille" and it was built in Paris, on an empty field in Île-de-France. Here's a nice little video behind the scenes of its creation.

One scene in the movie involves people going in and out of a bakery: every time the glass door is opened (and is pointedly paused for a moment by the actor), you get a glimpse of a reflection of the Eiffel Tower. Tati actually built that bakery exactly in alignment so that the real Eiffel Tower, a stone's throw away from Tativille, would be reflected in the glass door at just the right angle -- one of the film's innumerable little caprices.  

Here's a description of just what it entailed:  

...big blocks of dwellings, buildings of steel and glass, offices, tarmacked roads, carpark, airport and escalators. About 100 workers laboured ceaselessly for 5 months to construct this revolutionary studio with transparent partitions, which extended over 15,000 square metres. Each building was centrally heated by oil. Two electricity generators guaranteed the maintenance of artificial light on a permanent basis.  

During pre-production, "Tati visited many factories and airports throughout Europe before his cinematographer Jean Badal came to the conclusion that he needed to build his own skyscraper. Which is exactly what he did." In fact, he built Tativille: an entire city inhabited by no one but actors – who left after each day of filming. One estimate puts the total mass of built space and material at "11,700 square feet of glass, 38,700 square feet of plastic, 31,500 square feet of timber, and 486,000 square feet of concrete. Tativille had its own power plant and approach road, and building number one had its own working escalator."  

What a world of difference between the West and Islam: With Tati reflecting the former, we had all that money and labor and time devoted to fabricating a city for the love of playful art, with men and women in all sorts of delightfully compromising positions, figuratively speaking; while with the latter, we have the disease of a deranged fanaticism propelling an obsessive-compulsive urban planning to facilitate the gender apartheid that is at the heart of Islam. And when Muslims aren't doing that, or simply perpetuating the squalor of their living hells on Earth, they are using their unearned oil money to morph the opulent monstrosities one finds sheikhs and emirs dubiously dabbling in, in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. 


Sadly, Tativille was demolished long ago, to make way for expansion of the highway system of that most financially and culturally vital region of Paris (the so-called aire urbaine). But the film lives on eternally, representing one of a billion good reasons why we should not allow Muslims -- not a single one -- on the sacred ground of the West.

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