UMC - Grandes Marques et Maisons de Champagne

Champagne, star of the seventh art

Cult Bubbles

There are films that mark their time and there are timeless films that mark audiences of every generation. These are your cult classics – iconic films that often spawn a long list of sequels and spin-offs, for instance Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Star Wars or Harry Potter. Add Champagne to the mix and you have a recipe for turning a memorable scene into an unforgettable moment.

So let’s kick off with Marcel Carné’s Drôle de Drame (1937, Bizarre, Bizarre): a French comedy starring Louis Jouvet and Michel Simon, where the former famously says to the latter as they sit down to duck à l’orange: “I said bizarre, did I? How bizarre.” According to Jacques Prévert who wrote the screenplay, Jouvet and Simon polished off three ducks when shooting that scene – washed down with Pommery Champagne for good measure.

In Blake Edward’s 1963 film The Pink Panther, David Niven offers a glass of Champagne to Claudia Cardinale (a princess he’s trying to seduce and in the process steal her diamond). “Have a glass of Champagne,” he says. “Does wonders for extremes, and it’s been known to launch some lasting friendships.”

And talking of launching, Steven Spielberg’s films often begin with Champagne. Examples include: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) where “Indiana” Jones (Harrison Ford) gets the ball rolling with a glass of 1915 Moët & Chandon Dry Imperial; and Jurassic Park, released nine year’s later, which begins with Dr John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) opening a bottle of Champagne (also Moët & Chandon, as it happens).

Quentin Tarantino, Spielberg’s equally gifted counterpart, likewise features Champagne in his films – even if it means taking liberties with history. Inglourious Basterds (2008), for instance, showcases a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Champagne that didn’t exist in World War II when the film takes place. You would never guess it though to look at the bottle, with those famous white anemones created for Perrier-Jouet by Art Nouveau master Emile Gallé in 1902.

Two years later, the magic of Champagne meets the world of magic in David Yate’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010). At Bill and Fleur’s wedding, the narrator informs us that Harry had never been to a wedding before “so he could not judge how wizarding celebrations differed from Muggle ones, though he was pretty sure that the latter would not involve a wedding cake topped with two miniature phoenixes that took flight when the cake was cut, or bottles of Champagne that floated unsupported through the crowd.” (J. K. Rowling).

Which brings us to our last entry: Rian Johnson’s epic space opera, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2018), specifically the Canto Bight sequence about a casino city on the edges of the galaxy where exotic aliens share glasses of Champagne.