In Spain, in the sixteenth century, an elderly gentleman named Don Quixote has gone mad from reading too many books on chivalry. Proclaiming himself a knight, he sets out with his squire, ... See full summary »
In Spain, in the sixteenth century, an elderly gentleman named Don Quixote has gone mad from reading too many books on chivalry. Proclaiming himself a knight, he sets out with his squire, Sancho Panza, to reform the world and revive the age of chivalry, choosing a slut to be his noble lady Dulcinea. He mistakes inns for castles, a play about chivalry for the real thing, flocks of sheep for armies, convicts for wronged prisoners, and windmills for giants. While he and Sancho are off on their adventures, his niece, her fiancee, and the local priest think up a strategy to get him back home. Written by
Albert Sanchez Moreno
In Cervantes' novel and in most other film versions, the hero's name is really Alonso Quijano (or Quijana, as in "Man of La Mancha"), and it is only after going mad that he renames himself Don Quixote. In Pabst's film(s), the hero's name is really Don Quixote. See more »
Both the French and English versions are excellent!
The French version of this film is available on DVD along with the English version, which is 6 minutes shorter and missing just a few brief scenes and cut differently, with a longer written introduction and conclusion. Chaliapine's French is marginally better than his English and this film gives an astounding impression of his peculiarities as a singing actor: his tendency to interpolate subliminal sighs and groans between notes and his sometimes approximate pitch, which was probably another actor's trick. Besides, he was a "Don Quixote" expert, having created the title role of Massenet's 1910 opera of the same name. These films (the French, English and German versions) were an attempt to capture his legendary stage performance of this character even though the songs are by Jacques Ibert. Ravel had also been asked to compose the songs for the film but he missed the deadline and his songs survive on their own with texts that are different from those found here. The interplay between the French and English versions is fascinating. Some scenes are done exactly the same for better or worse, some use the same footage, re-cut to edit out performance problems, while others have slight variants in staging and dialog. (The English version was doctored by Australian-born scriptwriter and director John Farrow, Mia's father, by the way.) Even though the films are short and they transform, reduce and simplify considerably the original novel, they still manage to carry the themes and the feeling that would make "Man of La Mancha" a hit several decades later and to be evocative of Cervantes' Spain. The ending (which has a jolting special effect I will not reveal) is particularly effective and touching. Both the French and English prints are marred by a few jumps caused by missing frames which unfortunately make those films useless as a perfect recording medium for most of the songs but they are still very watchable and enjoyable. Chaliapine did record his four songs in 1933 for 78 RPM records and they and Sancho's song have been issued on a Marco Polo album (Jacques Ibert Film Music, 8.22387) sung by Henry Kiichli, which uses the published lyrics, which are a little different from the film's lyrics. All performances, except the death scene, appear to have been recorded live. Donnio does his role of Carrasco in both languages and the French Panza Dorville is as spectacular as his English counterpart George Robey is relaxed. All the supporting roles are well played in both versions. I found the English translation of the lyrics intelligent, poetic and perceptive. All in all, a very interesting bilingual package for the discerning opera and film amateur, edited by a video company that specializes in legendary musical performances.
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