Posted by: Jerry Garrett | December 7, 2010

Inception vs Ronin: The French Connection

Cafe Debussy, or something from another place in time? (Jerry Garrett Photo)

Déjà vu, as defined by French philosopher Emile Boirac in his 1917 book, “L’Avenir des Sciences Psychiques”, is an experience of feeling certain that one has previously witnessed or experienced a current situation or place. It is often associated with dreams.

So, it was not surprising to me that in the movie, “Inception”, which is all about dreams, I had a feeling of déjà vu during the scenes in Paris. I couldn’t quite understand why, until I recently happened upon a rerun of John Frankenheimer’s classic 1998 spy thriller, “Ronin.”

“Ronin” is best remembered for its celebrated car chase scenes – one earlier in the movie in Nice, and a final dash near the movie’s end. The climactic chase through Paris, between a 1992 BMW M5 and a hopelessly out-classed 1995 Peugeot 406 (so how does the Peugeot win?) brought on my attack of déjà vu.

Upon close inspection, it appears much, if not most, of the Ronin chase was filmed on the same streets, and in the same locations as were used in “Inception.” In fact, they even raced past the location of “Café Debussy” (actually a bistro today called Da Stuzzi).

Many chase takes were filmed up and down Rue Bouchut, which intersects with Rue Cesar Franck (note the monument in the middle of the intersection with Rue Valentin Hauy). “Cafe Debussy” is located on the northeast corner of Rue Cesar Franck and Rue Bouchut.

It is about a mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower (a block from the fortress-like UNESCO headquarters), and close to Place de Breteuil. Metro stops: Segur or Sevres-Lecourbe. The Sevres-Lecourbe station figures prominently in the “Ronin” chase sequences.

Also seen in both the “Inception” sequences in Paris, as well as “Ronin”, were areas such as the Bir-Hakeim Bridge along the River Seine.

“Inception” came out on DVD today.

Jerry Garrett

December 7, 2010

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