Archaeology of wonder: the excavation of the cinematic settings of a fairy tale (Peau d’âne, Demy 1970)

Since 2012, the archaeologist Olivier Weller, along with a team from the laboratory and archaeology and cinema students, has been excavating one of the sites where Jacques Demy shot several scenes from his film Peau d'âne. What do these remains of the past tell us? Does the comparison between the film and the traces found in the field raise the question of the vanity of archaeological interpretations?

Project description: Since 2012, the archaeologist Olivier Weller, along with a team from the laboratory and archaeology and cinema students, has been excavating one of the sites where Jacques Demy shot several scenes from his film Peau d’âne. What do these remains of the past tell us? Does the comparison between the film and the traces found in the field raise the question of the vanity of archaeological interpretations?

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The hut where the princess, played by the actress Catherine Deneuve, takes refuge from the desires of her incestuous father, has disappeared. But at the hut location, in the forest, pearls, nails, sequins and other fragments appear as soon as we scrape the ground, as if the earth had kept the imprint of the film to satisfy our curiosity. Stratum after stratum reveals the magic of the story of Peau d’Âne, which we discover is several thousand years old. The tale itself has its own prehistory. The story was adapted from a text by Charles Perrault, taken from a Neapolitan tale, which in turn came from an oral tradition dating back to ancient Egypt, or even earlier, and yet retains the mark of its origins. Does its charm lie in all those things buried who knows where? Our ‘Peau d’Âme’ project, with constant reference to the alleged lightness of Jacques Demy’s film directing, forces us to confront the way in which we are told about girls’ education, the representation of sexuality and, of course, incest, that fundamental prohibition of our civilisation. Our deepest memory appears to guide our steps – much more so than we think. Following scientific research, the film seeks to understand the magic of the filmmaker’s work, the charm of Charles Perrault’s text, the fascination of the original story. What does this story continue to unearth in us?

Documentary film “Peau d’âme” (to be released in Oct. 2017) Directed by Pierre Oscar Lévy Authors: Pierre Oscar Lévy and Olivier Weller Produced by Look At Sciences and in co-production with Ciné-Tamaris, Universcience.tv, Laboratoire Trajectoires-CNRS and Video de Poche Audience award at the Clermont-Ferrand Archaeology Film Festival (June 2017) Audience award at the Clermont-Ferrand Archaeology Film Festival (June 2017)

Project presentation brochure (June 2016)brochure_peaudane_juin2016.pdf

For more information : Archéologie du merveilleux (2017) Peau d’âme : le film (2016) Site Web Look@Sciences France-Culture (le Salon noir, 19/12/2015)

See also in «Current projects»

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