Production Courtyard is the first “land” you come to when exiting Studio 1. One of the first things you’ll notice is a large film-strip etched in the concrete. This is a pathway of sorts that leads from one end of the park to the other.
Also in Production Courtyard is a bandstand where live music is occasionally heard.
CinÃ©Magique (Film Magic) is the crowning jewel of the Walt Disney Studios Park. In fact, it could be the crowning jewel of a lot of theme parks. This is truly a wonderful attraction – a true crowd pleaser.
The outside of the attraction looks like a soundstage and the queue area is unremarkable at best. This “history of the movies” is shown several times a day so check your schedule.
Inside the soundstage you find a large theater that seats 1,100 guests. And of course, this is where the magique takes place.
Much of the charm of this attraction comes from the unexpected events that take place during the film. This is a spoiler alert. I’m going to describe what happens inside this theater. So if you’re planning a trip to the Disneyland Paris Resort and want to be surprised when you see this movie, skip the rest of this blog. But please note, this is an absolute MUST SEE at the Walt Disney Studios Park.
You are seated in the theater, expecting to see a “history” of film. Before the movie begins, a cast member, dressed in an usher’s costume of the 1930’s, walks on stage. You are welcomed to the show and reminded that there is no flash photography or video taping and asked to turn off your cell phones. A moment later, the movie begins.
The first film clips shown are from the silent era. Piano music plays and you settle in to enjoy the movie. All of a sudden, you hear a cell phone ringing from a seat near the front of the theater. A man answers it and starts a loud conversation with the airline who it seems has lost his luggage. During his conversation we learn that his name is George. A cast member rushes to the man and tries to quiet him. In his attempt to ignore the cast member and continue his call, George gets up from his seat and walks up onto the stage. His back is to us at all times.
All the while, the silent films continue to show on the screen. In the next clip we see a young sheik and his fiancÃ©e, Marguerite. They are in the midst of a love scene when they “break the fourth wall” and become aware of the annoying man talking on stage. After a moment’s irritation, the sheik summons a wizard. The wizard takes one look at George and starts to conjure a spell. Then he sprinkles some magic dust and POOF, there is a blast of smoke on the stage and the annoying man disappears. A moment later, George (played by Martin Short) reappears IN the movie. Being a silent movie, no sounds are emitted when George tries to speak.
The sheik, who was angry to have his romantic scene interrupted, punches George in the face. But Marguerite (played by Julie Delpy) takes pity on George and attends to him. The sheik, seeing a tenderness developing between them, starts to chase after George. It’s here that the insanity really begins.
George runs through the castle looking for an escape route and finds a window. When he crawls through it, he’s transported to the ledge of a skyscraper in New York City with Harold Lloyd. When he climbs down the fire escape, he joins a pie fight with Charlie Chaplin.
As he continues to jump from movie to movie he soon finds that he’s in the age of the “talkies” and he can now speak. Next we find George at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre with Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis. Eventually color comes to the movies and soon, wide screen. All the while, George continues to experience the cinema first hand.
But Marguerite, who is falling in love with George, wants to find him and she too begins to jump from film to film looking for him. They occasionally meet and their love for one another continues to grow.
There is very little dialogue, and it really isn’t needed to tell the story. When words are wanted, George speaks in English and Marguerite in French. But the story is so excellently told that you can understand everything.
George continues his journey and meets Pinocchio, Hannibal Lector, and Inspector Clouseau, just to name a few. He climbs aboard the sinking Titanic, dances in Mary Poppins, and is involved in a western shoot-out.
Eventually, George and Marguerite are reunited in a medieval battle scene. But George is weary of the “movies” and wants to return to the real world. A chivalrous French knight agrees to help and climbs a nearby hill. He takes his mighty sword and flings it toward the screen. Magically, the sword slices the screen and is impaled on stage. The effect is magnificent and the audience applauds.
George exits the film via the sliced screen, but alas, Marguerite cannot. Then, as quickly as the tear appeared, it disappears and George cannot reenter the film world.
But all is not lost. The wizard, who originally brought George into the film world, creates a door on the screen. George opens it, walks through, and immerges back on celluloid once more. The movie ends with George and Marguerite walking down the Yellow Brick Road toward Oz.
CinÃ©Magique is about 30 minutes long, but it seems shorter because you are so engrossed in the story. You will laugh and you will cry. And you will want to see it again! I can’t recommend this movie enough. If you only see one attraction at the Walt Disney Studios Park, let it be this one.
I really wish Disney would bring this attraction to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. It would be an instant success. But I’ve heard that Disney only secured the rights to show these film clips in Paris and nowhere else. If this is true, it’s a real pity.
In my next blog I’ll be discussing “Stitch Live.”