Les 350 ans de l'Observatoire de Paris

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L'Observatoire, documentary

Daniel Touati

The Observatory of Paris is an astonishing space, populated by enthusiasts who question the cosmos. A temple dedicated to heaven, which for centuries serves as an intermediary between the immensity of the Universe and the scale of men who strive to understand it. By immersing oneself for a year in the life of the place and of those who live there at the forefront of research, Daniel Touati’s movie plunges us into the heart of the scientific quest.

Released: end of 2017.

L'Observatoire, documentary

08 February 2017

Daniel Touati talks about his project:

“A year-and-a-half ago, I passed through the doors of the Paris Observatory for the first time. Without a specific film in mind, I had asked for a reader’s permit from the library.

“I began to read, wandering instinctively among many exciting works. Books on comets at the border of drawing and photography, handwritten cards on the colors of Mars, maps of the sky riddled with points, testimonies… I discovered old collections that confirmed my interest in everything that affects research of the Universe and of the history of human understanding.

“These readings were enriched by meetings with researchers as diverse as their disciplines. I gradually discovered a world that I had totally ignored, and I became passionate about this amazing place, far from all the clichés on scientific research

“At first I was trying to portray only one person. But I still felt frustration. The more I worked, the more it seemed impossible to portray the emotion of discovery without understanding in depth the dialogue between the various researchers, between the various scientific advances and between instruments, places and epochs.

“One morning, as I continued to persist in portraying a single person, I realized that a treasure was in front of me in this place, and that I had naturally integrated it. I then decided to make a portrait of the Observatory: a movie about scientific quest, about this profound movement in which every researcher participates but which surpasses him.

“More concretely, I look at what researchers are searching for, and how they do their research. With the Observatory as a unit, at its three sites in Paris, Meudon and Nançay, and in a year as the unit of time, that is, a certain cycle of light. Basically what touches me is the way we look at things. The limits of human understanding and our efforts to expand it. The more we understand, the more we are creating mystery.”


What touches me is the limits of human understanding and our efforts to expand it.