Edinburgh is no stranger to cinema. It is the setting for some incredible films including “Trainspotting” and “Chariots of Fire” amongst others.
It should be no surprise then that it was recently featured on a list of “Cinematic Cities” on travel blog GoEuro. This article focuses on the 2010 film “L’illusionniste” by Sylvain Chomet which is based on a 1950s screenplay by Jacques Tati. Chomet is the filmmaker behind the Academy Award winning film “The Triplets of Belleville” and his 2010 film features similar animated charm.
“L’illusionniste” put Edinburgh firmly on display. Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat are both featured prominently, but it is Chomet’s incredible feel for the architecture and vibe of the capital that really shines through. His titular magician plays in a theatre called the Royal Music Hall and while it is fictional it feels strongly inspired by Edinburgh landmarks like the Royal Lyceum Theatre and The King’s Theatre. Chomet brings Tati’s unfinished screenplay to life and his stunning animation truly makes the city shine.
Edinburgh’s unique charms take centre stage in a film which opened the 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival and in which the protagonist travels throughout the continent searching for places to perform. Paris and London are fleeting memories in comparison to Chomet’s love letter to Edinburgh: the city becomes a new home for the fictionalised Tati and his young companion – a place where magic can be real and they can truly connect. The original screenplay is said to have been written for Tati’s estranged eldest daughter in an attempt to mend their relationship. The pair’s reconciliation at the end of the film shows the special place that the city holds in the heart of the playwright.
Paris may be the “city of lights” but Chomet’s animated take on Edinburgh shows it to be something all the more special: a place of charm, love, and reconciliation.