On January 18, 1957, Professor Pierre THÉVENARD requested permission to go and film at the museum in La Rochelle the first giraffe which arrived in France. Fascinated by a lecture given by specialist Gabriel Dardaud, the film director and scientist wanted to make a documentary on the subject.
Pierre Thévenard began his career as a urologist. In 1934, he became an assistant at the filming of surgical movies. In 1940, while waiting for the return of his clientele dispersed by the war, he decided to use his cinematic skills to make scientific films. In 1941, he obtained his specialized film director’s card that allowed him to acquire film stock. He joined the Association des Artisans d’art du Cinéma. A series followed of often award-winning productions for research, teaching and for the general public.
In 1955, he published La Radiocinématographie directe en 35 mm appliquée à la recherche, a new cinematographic technique he developed at the Pasteur Institute. When he became interested in Zarafa, he had just won the documentary prize at the Venice Film Festival for “The Adventures of a Blue Fly”. Officially presented on 8 May 1958, his film La Girafe à Paris is a 16-minute short film, shot in 35 mm color, which is both playful and didactic, sometimes using the technique of cartoons.
Here is the synopsis. “Visitors to the Vincennes Zoo no longer pay attention to a curious resident: the giraffe. This animal with a long neck, bird’s tail, the head of an elk and the skin of a cheetah was, for a very long time, an object of assiduous research by zoologists and philosophers. The director also tells us the true story of the first Giraffe imported to France, its long and delicate journey that brought it to Paris. »