Paris Ring

Directed by Richard Copans

54 minutes / Color
French / English subtitles
Release: 2010
Copyright: 2004

Paris, 19th Century and Paris Ring are included on one DVD.

PARIS RING serves as a study of the far-reaching effects of a major, urban project. The Peripherique - the ring road that surrounds the city - offers a stark demarcation between urban environments. On one side lies the elegant city of Paris. On the other is the endless sprawl of contemporary suburbs.

Design work on the road began in 1954, and it opened to traffic 19 years later. Its route mirrors the walls that once ringed Paris, and that were torn down after the First World War made it clear they were no longer effective. A no-man's land sprung up near the walls - home to a working-class and transient population that offended the aesthetic sensibilities of the bourgeoisie, and that was eventually displaced by the road.

The construction of the Peripherique - 35 kilometres long, with up to eight lanes of traffic and carrying more than a million cars a day - is arguably the most significant project carried out in Paris since Baron Haussmann transformed the city into a modern metropolis in the 1860s.

But where Haussmann's Paris balanced utility with aesthetics, the Peripherique is purely an engineering triumph.

For some, the Peripherique is a blight, a stark separation between city and suburb. For others it represents an economic lifeline without which the city could not survive. Their stories are a reminder that even the most utilitarian urban spaces develop their own particular ecology.

The documentary also serves as a valuable companion piece to PARIS 19TH CENTURY, THE INVENTION OF THE MODERN CITY, which offers an architectural examination of the legacy of Haussmann's re-development of the city.

"…provides a powerful and holistic image of the Boulevard Peripherique and of those who live, work, and rest eternally in its presence."—W. Brian Newsome, Elizabeth College, H-France Review

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Purchase DVD for $398.00


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