Category Archives: Egyptomania

Egypt in vintage popular culture.

A visit to the Louxor

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I was in Paris last week and I went to the cinema – not just any cinema, but the magnificent cinema above. It’s a place I’ve passed it many times on trips to Paris over the years, but previously the building was always derelict and boarded up. Apparently, it had been that way since the 1980s. But recently it has undergone a three-year long restoration and the regenerated Louxor – Palais de Cinema opened in April this year.

It’s a beautiful example of Egyptian-inspired Art Deco that followed in the wake of the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb – except that this theatre was built the year before Carter’s epic find, in 1921. One theory is, it was designed this way to capitalise on the massive success of the 1917 silent film Cleopatra staring Theda Bara.

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After the cinema closed, the building was a disco and a gay nightclub. Now it’s back to showing films. Good films, too, with an eclectic programme heavy on arthouse and world cinema, the latter reflecting the make-up of neighbouring multi-racial Barbès district.

The Ancient Egyptian theming isn’t limited to the mosaics and columns on the façade – the main auditorium also has a painted relief spanning the whole of the room and moldings of pharaonic heads. I particularly loved the 1920s bar up on the third floor, which has a small outdoor terrace from where you can see the roof-line mosaics close up – or, if you are facing the other way, the domes of nearby Sacré-Cœur. You can use the bar even if you aren’t intending to watch a film. The Louxor is in front of Barbès-Rochechouart Metro station, one stop from the Gare du Nord.

LE LOUXOR

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LE LOUXOR

LE LOUXOR

LE LOUXOR

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Glamour girls and sphinxes, part 2

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Some time ago I posted a picture of Sophia Loren on a sphinx for no better reason that it was a beautiful photograph – well, in a similarly spurious vein, here is Russian ballet star Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) in front of a sphinx at the Serapeum, Alexandria in 1923. A regular trooper when it came to touring, she was in town for a run of seven nights of performances at the Grand Theatre Mohamed Aly (she’d also been in Egypt in 1910 and would return in 1928). Below, she poses in Cairo with a more famous Sphinx, while bottom that’s her beside a hideous fountain in the garden at Shepheard’s, which is presumably where she stayed.

NPG x135875; Anna Pavlova in Egypt by Anglo-Swiss Photo-Studio, Cairo

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Sophia and the sphinx

I don’t know what the background to this image is, I just chanced on it today while doing some internet research. The only information on the site where I found the photo was that it was taken possibly in 1954. That’s the same year Two Nights with Cleopatra was released with Loren as Cleo, and the year after her first big break, playing the title role in Aida. Hence, probably, the sphinx. What I can add is the location – that’s one of the pair of sphinxes that flank the obelisk on London’s Thames Embankment. I should know, I pass it a couple of times a week heading to or from Waterloo station. So what, you might ask, is the relevance to the grand hotels of Egypt. None at all. It’s just Sophia Loren and a sphinx. Isn’t that reason enough?

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