Did you know that in 1910, Paris got flooded so badly that it became, as one writer puts it, “a reluctant Venice, gondolas and all, virtually overnight”? Me neither, but this creepy video by Olivier Campagne and Vivien Balzi–which depicts a modern-day City of Light deluged and deserted–got me a-Googlin’ to see if something similar had ever happened in real life. Check it out:
The 1910 “Great Flood of Paris” was a media sensation at the time, and photos of the disaster look like some kind of surreal counterfactual Photoshop exercise. Campagne and Balzi’s film no doubt resonates with Parisians even more eerily than the rest of us, but it’s still plenty chilling–especially since its photorealistic CGI flood so flawlessly re-creates the real-world imagery from a century ago. But in this vision of a near-future natural disaster, the rowboats and gondolas are absent; life does not go on, as it does in the photos from 1910. Here, humans have given up and left the city for dead. It’s like a French remake of 28 Days Later except with plain ol’ H2O instead of zombies.
I asked a journalist friend who covers climate change if Paris was vulnerable to such a cataclysm because of global warming. “Whether or not it’s from climate change, Paris, like Texas, has a historical vulnerability to extreme weather,” he told me. Newsweek agrees and thinks history will inevitably repeat itself. So maybe this creepy little bit of special effects is more of a warning than a what-if.