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The Battle of the Pyramid

"An 'architectural documentary' usually takes the form of a bleak guided tour with cameramen doing contortions while a voice-over spouts an incomprehensible commentary. Frédéric Compain takes a diametrically different approach. To begin with, the object in question is discussed rather than shown—this is not the presentation of a product, but the history of a building. The aim is to understand, to speak of architecture rather than show it—an altogether more ambitious goal. For those who enjoy clichés this may sound dull, but it's absolutely gripping... because it's a social story. [...] Frédéric Compain has convened all the players in the drama […] Both in form and content, his film is an ode to courage."

François Granon, Télérama, 1999.

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The Battle of the Pyramid

Director(s): Frédéric Compain

This film takes a calm look back at the genesis of the Louvre pyramid. It is based on two of the twenty-two notebooks kept by architect Yann Weymouth (the closest collaborator of Grand Louvre architect Ieoh Ming Pei) during the eight years it took to complete the project. These notebooks—a day-by-day compilation of sketches, collages, and personal notes—tell the story of the great architectural project initiated by the late French president François Mitterrand. Structuring his film around these notebooks, Frédéric Compain invites the main players in this drama to recount their own experience. Fifteen years later, craftsmen, curators, site foremen, senior officials, and politicians give frank personal accounts of the conception and troublesome progress of the pyramid project and of the saga of its construction: the discovery of archaeological remains that delayed building work, the hesitations of the Commission des Monuments Historiques, the political and media opposition... Through the complex story of a specific object—the Louvre pyramid—the film also reflects the process of architectural creation in general.


Available for sale on the co-publisher's website.






52 minutes


Elisabeth Kiledjian, Les Films d’Ici


Paris Première, La Cinquième, Musée du Louvre

DVD edition

Musée du Louvre

Arte Éditions,

Commercial distribution

Europe Images International

Les Films d’Ici

Non-commercial distribution

Images de la Culture – CNC