Monday, September 8, 2014

Of Vintage Esso Stations, Trenchcoats, and Ingenues

This week I was re-watching the Carey Mulligan/Peter Sarsgaard film An Education (2009) and was reminded, yet again, of another film in which an Esso station, a trench, and an ingenue are prominently featured: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964).

Both films feature innocent heroines who wear trenchcoats and who receive educations of varying sorts. One such educating moment takes place for both women at a (vintage to us) Esso station.

Cherbourg, of course, is situated in France, and I read Education's Esso scene as a gentle homage, as our ingenue character from that film loves France: she listens to Juliette Greco over and over (the album cover with the eyes); she breaks out into French words and phrases during English conversation, which makes perfect sense to her schoolchums but comes across as utterly odd to Helen, a deliberately uneducated but well-clothed character. (You know, I do that seemingly random French inclusion too, not to be pretentious, but because of my many years spent in bilingual Ottawa and Montreal.)
Esso in Cherbourg, France

Esso in England
I think I also see both Esso scenes with nostalgic fondness because I grew up with that gas station on PEI. Mr. C tells me that it became Exxon in the United States; perhaps that explains why it remains only on film and in my memory.

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