Hitchcock on Rue Mouffetard

By May 18, 2010 Paris - France, Photography

The intersection of rue Mouffetard and rue Jean Calvin is one of my favorite spots in all of Paris. Whenever I walk by I pause in awe in front of the stencil of Alfred Hitchcock made by artist Jef Aerosol.

I started developing a keen interest in film during my teenage years and Hitchcock was my very first favorite director (that is, before I discovered Fellini’s “8 1/2”). I would watch Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and the Birds ad nauseam, taking an immense delight in his cameos. “Hitchcock” – the book-length interview of the director by François Truffaut was practically my bible during film school.

So, the combination of Paris’ irresistibly charming Quartier Latin and Alfred Hitchcock’s image on rue Jean Calvin have always had a spellbinding effect on me. Throughout my years in Paris, I have stopped in this very spot numerous times, taking photos of the stencils and the passers-by, all the while learning important lessons about the value of patience for photographers and staying glued to one spot waiting for the right moment.

From the summer of 2007:

Since this photo was taken, the condition of the stencil steadily deteriorated: vandals drew on Hitchcock’s face, and gave him a Hitler-like mustache, making him virtually unrecognizable.

So, it was with great delight that last weekend I noticed a restored stencil of the legendary director. And, totally serendipitously, I bumped into Jef Aerosol himself (we had become acquainted back in ’07), as he was dashing around rue Calvin, restoring his pochoirs and working on new ones. The light was too poor on Saturday to take photos. But last night, as I was walking home from an apero on place de la Contrescarpe, I found the perfect moment to immortalize the restored stencil: a glowing orange sky at dusk.

My 50mm fast lens doesn’t quite do it justice because of the shallow depth of field, mais c’est la vie!

Links:

– Jef Aerosol’s official website
– Jef Aerosol photo pool on Flickr