Notre-Dame on Fire

A film relating from the inside the Notre-Dame de Paris fire of April 2019.


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at 01:46 am

Just imagine. A builder on the roof of this ancient monument is having a fly cigarette. He throws the butt from the rooftop but instead of finding it's way to the ground, it is blown through one of the slitted windows whereupon it encounters some debris from a pigeon's nest and - well quite literally all hell breaks lose. Jean-Jacques Annaud intersperses real footage of this terrible conflagration with a drama offering us a plausible depiction of just how difficult it was for the Pompiers of Paris to not only tackle this blaze, but to get through the grid-locked streets of their city to the Île de la Cité in the first place. There is a palpable sense of the heat, the smoke - and the fear as the fire fighters tried to coax the water pressure into a meaningful tool to put out the fire whilst what seemed like gallons of molten lead slurped around the roof using the gargoyles as did Charles Laughton back in 1939. The dramatic elements are adequate, but to be honest they don't really matter - most of this is eye-watering. Certainly, you are pretty clearly aware of what is real and what has been staged - the intimate photography leaves us in little doubt of that, but again that doesn't really matter. This film demonstrates the courage and bravery of those tasked with stopping history burning down around them, whilst building on the response nightmare and the religiosity of those who can't quite believe God is allowing this to happen at all! It is all told pacily and effectively in just under two hours. What I really found irritating - exasperating, even, were all the spectators clogging everywhere up - so long as they had a vantage point then the emergency services could wait their turn... Fascinating to watch, and well worth it.