Thursday, January 20, 2011

Madame de...

Salaperäiset korvarenkaat / De hemlighetsfulla örhängarna / Bröllopsgåvan [The Swedish title on print] / The Earrings of Madame de... FR/IT 1953. PC: Franco-London Films / Indusfilms / Rizzoli Film. P: Henri Deutschmeister. D: Max Ophuls. SC: Marcel Achard, Max Ophuls, Annette Wademant – based on the novel (1951) by Louise de Vilmorin. DP: Christian Matras. AD: Jean d’Eaubonne. Cost: Georges Annenkov, Rosine Delamare. M: Oscar Straus - themes by Giacomo Meyerbeer, W.A. Mozart - arranged by Georges van Parys. S: Antoine Petitjean. ED: Borys Lewin. Cast: Danielle Darrieux (Countess Louise de...), Charles Boyer (General André de...), Vittorio de Sica (Baron Fabrizio Donati), Mireille Perrey (nurse), Jean Debucourt (Rémy, the jeweler), Jean Galland (de Bernac), Hubert Noel (Henri de Malleville), Madeleine Barbulée (the friend of the Countess), Georges Vitray (journalist), Guy Favières (Julien), Lia di Léo (Lola). (99 min, 100 min, 102 min). A 99 min Svenska Filminstitutet - Filmarkivet print with Swedish subtitles and electronic subtitles in Finnnish by Lena Talvio viewed at Cinema Orion (History of the Cinema), Helsinki, 20 Jan 2011

Revisited the immortal masterpiece by Max Ophuls, also inspired by our Stanley Kubrick tribute. Ophuls was one of the great models for Kubrick who learned a lot from Ophuls about cinematography (the art of the moving camera, the joy of the cinema). Perhaps part of the Ophuls inspiration is also the fact that there is a waltz in every Kubrick film. Common to both is also a sense of sophisticated irony. But in Ophuls there is also always a sense of profound tenderness.

Madame de... gets better at each viewing. Its source is in lightweight entertainment, and it could be another variation of La Ronde, or one of those portmanteau films which follow cynically the course of an object with the aim of an entertaining cross-section story. Madame de... goes through these motions entertainingly enough but halfway through the movie we start to reach new levels of feeling. The main characters wake up to a deeper sense of life. We observe them trapped to the conventions of their social roles. Even the general confesses that he does not feel comfortable in the role he is being forced to play. All the characters are worldly yet unable to transcend their circumstances.

Peter von Bagh has analyzed Madame de... as a study in the fetishism of the commodity. And it indeed is a superior film from this viewpoint. The sublimation reaches its apogee towards the end when Madame de... just before her death endows her diamond earrings (originally the gift of her husband after their wedding night) to Virgin Mary.

Danielle Darrieux (born 1917 and still filming) is at her best in this film. She carries unforgettably the main role as the frivolous lady who discovers the gravity of life and faces tragedy with noble grandeur.

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