The ragpickers' territory
In 1928, Georges Lacombe, then assistant to René Clair, filmed the ragpickers who lived in the "zone".
As his camera was stationary, he took particular care over the framing and he offers the viewer a document that is imbued with both realism and poetry. We even see the once-famous cancan dancer "La Goulue", sunk into poverty at the end of her life.
Day dawned on the avenue while the ragpickers assigned to this section of road were skillfully rummaging through the last trashcans with their hooks. Then the municipal street sweepers passed through, brushing the cobblestones under streams of water. Next it was the turn of the dust carts to appear, avid for the rubbish that the garbage collectors cram into the trashcans, with no qualms about clanking the trashcans, bringing out the concierges with their clatter to fetch their bins, and causing the upstairs maids to fold back the shutters.
Extract from Hotu soit qui mal y pense, chapter IV, by Albert Simonin, ed. Série Noire, Gallimard.