It’s a spring night in the city of lights, 1931.
We fly above the roofs of Paris, and see a light shining through a rooftop.
Inside, we find René, a 33 year old janitor starting his night shift at what looks like an art studio, with lots of work in progress: half-painted on an easel, brushes, paint and palettes atop of a couple tables. On the opposite side, sinuous forms of cut paper sit pinned to a wall – an unfinished collage.
Struggling to bring in his tools – his mop, bucket and broom at the same time, it’s clear René is not the world’s most deft person.
As he starts to dust, he almost drops a vase, then breaks a cup… and when he kneels to clean it up, his broom handle accidentally hits a switch… turning on a ceiling fan, which speeds up almost like a tornado, rocking the whole room and unhinging the studio’s roof!
René watches in a mixture of panic and awe as the roof goes flying away into the night. In a flash, everything in the studio is upturned –piles of cut paper, brushes, scissors and rags now lie strewn all over the floor.
René, in disbelief, wonders, how is he, a mere janitor, supposed to put back together what the artist was working on?
Reaching the wall where a collage in progress once stood, he sees a couple of scraps that linger.
Terrified, he grabs a bucketful of papers desperately tries to piece it all back together. After a while René stops second guessing himself and gets lost into it. We only see his gestures, not the image he is working on.Suddenly out of the trance, he realizes he must resign himself to his meager skills which will undoubtedly reveal his snafu.
As he collects his belongings and prepares to leave, he turns off the light switch. As if by magic, the ceiling comes flying back, slowly resting on its original place.Before he closes the door, he takes last look. After all that panic, he seems to think his reconstruction is not that bad.
As he leaves, the camera pans around and we are finally able to see what he’s managed to assemble: one of Matisse’s best known masterpieces.
© 2014 S. GROSSMANN