CARTIER, THE FILM: Coming soon to a theater near you: Cartier.

Next month, the French jewelry house will launch its most ambitious screen advertisement in more than a decade, “The Cartier Odyssey,” a three-and-a-half-minute spectacular that required three panthers, model Shalom Harlow and a life-size replica of a 1906 biplane.

This story first appeared in the February 29, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In images that run the gamut from real-life Paris to digitally re-created versions of Russia, China and India, the panther — a house emblem since the Thirties — takes viewers on a journey through Cartier’s iconic creations and its various métiers.

“The film was a sort of logical conclusion for us,” said Pierre Rainero, director of image, style and heritage at Cartier. “Having used the panther on greeting cards and invitations, and in advertising campaigns, it seemed natural to see it come alive, and what better way to do that than through a film?”

The ad will break on Sunday on television in the U.S., China, Russia, France, the U.K., Hong Kong and the Middle East. Directed by Bruno Aveillan, it will screen on TV and in cinemas in its full version and in a 45-second cut, and will also be featured on a dedicated micro site and Facebook page.

Corinne Delattre, Cartier’s director of communication, said this marked a departure for the brand, which this year celebrates its 165th anniversary.

“Having this digital tool will allow us to start a conversation about the brand,” she said. “People say digital is a risk, because it’s very democratic, but it also allows us to pursue that conversation and explain our craftsmanship to those people familiar with the more futile aspect of jewelry, who see it merely as a beautiful object.”

The film features three young panthers — Cali, Damou and Tiga — whose trainer, Thierry Le Portier, has worked with leading directors, including Ridley Scott. In the final scene, a panther joins Harlow, who is dressed in a red custom-made gown by Chinese designer Yiqing Yin.

The model wears diamond and natural pearl earrings; a 13.4-carat pear-cut solitaire diamond ring and a unique platinum panther bracelet with a 51.58-carat green beryl, onyx spots and nose, emerald eyes and “fur-studded” diamonds.

Locations for the shoot, which required a crew of 60, included Prague, Spain, the Italian Dolomites and Paris, where the panthers were filmed against the backdrop of the Cartier store at 13 Rue de la Paix, the Grand Palais and Place Vendôme.

The film is also notable for its fantasy scenes, which include showing the Taj Mahal strapped to an elephant’s back.

“When we started discussing the script, we decided there needed to be this dimension of excess to the film in order to trigger emotion,” said Rainero.

“Cartier is known worldwide today, but I don’t think people are as familiar with the wealth of our history, our creative vein, our values and our work. The film is probably much more effective than traditional advertising campaigns in conveying this message.”

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