Most of the drama is played out in a single, map-lined room. The film was shot in the home of the author of the book from which it is adapted, and I assume these maps are his. They are used in the film as significant décor, often as a backdrop to the dramatic attitudes assumed by the German officer billeted in this French home:
The maps also set off poses adopted by the old man and young woman who live in the house:
To my shame I can identify none of the places represented on these maps, except for those on the globe and the planisphere of the heavens.
A few other maps feature in the film, such as this curious (hand-drawn?) map of the Red Sea area:
The map is in reverse because it is filmed from below and behind, as the old man folds it back into the book he is reading.
In the kitchen of the house we see a part of a map if Paris on the wall, and in his room the German officer examines a book about Paris with a map of the Ile de la Cité on the cover:
There is also a map of Europe on the banner of the Petit Parisien newspaper that he has in his room:
The only other maps are at the mairie of Villiers-sur-Morin, where the German officer works. One probably represents the area of jurisdiction, the other shows the outline of the British Isles on a propaganda poster:
Each of these, curiously, is reframed and reversed by being seen in a mirror:
A still of this last image is used in Jean-Louis Roy's 1967 film L'Inconnu de Shandigor, where it evokes the Nazi past of a character played by Howard Vernon:
Available to watch on BBC iPlayer until Saturday August 18: here
Decorum and the subject specificity of this blog prohibit me from displaying the astonishing sight of Von Stroheim in blackface, from the New York scenes with which this very peculiar film opens.
The maps that illustrate the crossing of the Atlantic and a plan to make a sea in the Sahara are splendid.
An explorer's map is the narrative pretext, but other than the cinemap of the journey across Africa, which the film returns to twice, the only map we see is this:
... and a glimpse of a globe:
To find someone seen at a porte de Paris, the members of the group divide up Paris and each make enquiries with a photograph at a different crossing point into the city.
At the edges of the city there are also maps:
A different ocean, the Pacific, at the line between North and South.
And the two other maps in the film.
Designed by Milton Glaser and Walter Bernard, the credit sequence of Sleepless In Seattle is very simple, the slow revelation from east to west of a map of the United States. The map combines the political and the physical, showing both states and mountains, and is shot from an angle rather than overhead. The curve of the horizon and the schematic arrangement of stars above the map suggest that this is a view of a planet (one on which the only distinguishing feature is the United States):
In different colours, the map returns periodically in the film as the basis of a graphic representation of characters' movements across the country:
At the very end of the film a map appears, revealed as the camera withdraws slowly from a Manhattan of lights. The lights look like stars in a black sky, and as it grows distant New York comes to resemble a galaxy. Eventually, the whole of the Unites States is outlined by points of light,and the country becomes a constellation:
(I may have missed the point of joke being made, but to me this angled view of the United States makes the country look remarkably like a fish.)
There are more conventional maps in the mise-en-scène. A protagonist discusses the geography of the United States with the aid of a wall map:
Another protagonist has a map of the city in which she works (Baltimore) on the wall of the office in which she works:
When she visits another city (Seattle), she consults a map of that city:
She also finds herself in front of a peculiarly decorated, spinning globe in a shop-window display: