Feeling Bleu – Dressing up for the Cinema in Paris

By Nicole Brownstein, API Paris Fall 2009 student, and API Peer Mentor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

In the United States, we get excited about things. We paint our faces for football games, wear tee-shirts with band logos on them. We even dress in costume and show up at midnight for movie and book releases (*cough* Harry Potter *cough*). Apparently that is highly frowned upon in Paris, which was something I did not expect.

Parisians talk softly, almost in a monotonous mumble, and don’t always open up to strangers right away — but I loved that sense of privacy and familiarity. If a French person was talking to me in a casual and familiar way, I knew that they appreciated my opinions and friendship. In fact, this was one of my favorite parts about living abroad.

Dressing up in blue for Avatar

As American, we seem to be much more animated and wilder than the Parisians, simply by noticing how we talk. We talk loudly, while chewing, and to anyone who will listen. That is why I am not really sure how I missed the whole “don’t dress up for new movies” thing. I was in Paris when the movie Avatar came out and oh my goodness was I excited. I first saw it with my friend Leslie and we could not stop talking about how wonderful and pretty it was. We decided to see it again the following weekend, but this time we thought it would be fun to dress up for it. Leslie and I spent about two hours finding every piece of blue clothing we owned and put all of them on. We painted our faces blue and braided our hair. Then we headed out to the largest movie theater in Paris.

First we took the tram to the metro station. We got a few strange looks, but they were more out of pity I think since our tram stop was in front of the fondation des états-unis, the American dorm. Once we got onto the metro, the looks really started! The movie theater was at least a mile from the metro stop and we, being map-less, were forced to interact with people to figure out where we were going. It was pretty obvious that we were trying to see Avatar, but no one seemed to want to be seen with us ;).

In the end, Leslie and I met up with my mother, who was visiting that week, for dinner and her laughter made the whole thing worth it.

I thought about this very strange experience while drawing a lightning bolt on my head to see the midnight release of the new Harry Potter movie this week. I felt a pang of Paris-sickness while waiting in line to get into the theater, seeing almost everyone around me in some sort of costume. This never would have happened in Paris, I said to my friends who laughed and reminded me that I am back in the United States where it is not so weird to pretend you are a wizard in public.

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  1. Gabrielle L. says

    Great post, Nicole! Every time I read anything written by a Peer Mentor, I want to hop on a plane immediately and go to their study abroad locale 🙂

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