Film Includes Great Wall, Dragon Imagery Along With St. Petersburg and India
Making its small-screen debut this weekend, Cartier’s new three and a half minute advertisement/short film “L’Odyssée de Cartier” is the French luxury brand’s attempt to not only dazzle established (and jaded) customers, but also to introduce its history and heritage to a new generation of consumers in emerging markets.
Tracing some of the key points in Cartier’s 165-year history, the film follows the brand’s historical symbol, a panther, as it traverses the globe and comes across a variety of symbolic characters on its journey.
Directed by Bruno Aveillan, the short film is packed with references to Cartier touchstones such as the “Tutti Frutti” style, the jewelry of the Maharajas and a reference to the Santos watch — the first modern wristwatch. Following “La Panthère” — a nod to Cartier’s legendary designer, Jeanne Toussaint — from France to Russia, China, India and back, the film is in itself an attempt by Cartier to remind older markets of the brand’s relevance, while making a very overt nod to its emerging buyer base.
Traveling first through the snow to St. Petersburg, where it races against a horse-drawn carriage, the panther then encounters a golden dragon in China and bounds across the Great Wall before ending up at an Indian palace — filled with pieces of animal-themed jewelry, many of which are actually kept in the Cartier archive — built upon an elephant’s back. Finally, the panther leaps onto the wings of a replica of the early airplane built by the Brazilian aviation legend Alberto Santos-Dumont. (Who commissioned his eponymous Cartier watch in 1904.) The airplane then swoops into Paris in a reference to Santos-Dumont’s legendary 1901 on a flight around the Eiffel Tower and the panther disembarks on the roof of the Place Vendôme, where he encounters supermodel Shalom Harlow at the Grand Palais.
The scale of this production is hard to overstate. In all, director Aveillan was backed by a crew of 60 on location, along with an additional 50 technicians working on post-production for around six months. The original score for “L’Odyssée” was composed and arranged by Pierre Adenot and recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios, and in another nod to the ties between Cartier and China, the dress worn by Shalom Harlow was designed by the Chinese-born French fashion designer Yiqing Yin.
Having put so much effort into the feature, Cartier plans to go large in its rollout of “L’Odyssée.” The brand has 800 cinema screenings in the UK slated for the film, and has blocked time to show it on television in a dozen countries globally, including the United States, China and in South America.