An all-knowing interlocutor guides us through a series of affairs in Vienna, 1900. A soldier meets an eager young lady of the evening. Later he has an affair with a young lady, who becomes ... See full summary »
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In the Paris of the late 19th century, Louise, wife of a general, sells the earrings her husband gave her as a wedding gift: she needs money to cover her debts. The general secretly buys ... See full summary »
Vittorio De Sica
An all-knowing interlocutor guides us through a series of affairs in Vienna, 1900. A soldier meets an eager young lady of the evening. Later he has an affair with a young lady, who becomes a maid and does similarly with the young man of the house. The young man seduces a married woman. On and on, spinning on the gay carousel of life. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
A new convert to the magical world of Max Ophuls, I am still reeling at the astonishing riches to be found there, & how far beyond pretty much every other director he was at the time of making this, his greatest film. The filmmaker he most reminds me of is Ernst Lubitsch, though 20 years down the line. There is the same poetry & joy, humor & sensuality. Looking at this film & his other masterpiece, 'Le Plaisir', one almost feels one is seeing an alternate reality of cinema, where the Hayes production code of 1934 had never kicked in & neutered all artistic vision for the next 35 years. At a time when all American romance ended in a nuclear family & a white picket fence, Ophuls depicts real-world sexual dalliances frankly, intimately, yet always romantically. There is spirit, soul & magic up there on the screen. The overall effect is "It's just like the classic films from the golden age of Hollywood, if they'd only been made for grown-ups".
Something I'm still trying to get my head around: I cannot for the life of me see why Ophuls is repeatedly spoken of as a 'feminist' director - I see no hint of 'patriarchal rape culture' conspiracy theories in Ophuls' universe, no blaming or scapegoating of men - just the world as it is made beautiful. The women are not depicted as victims any more than the men who fall for them. There is simply the circle of life - La Ronde - continuing on. The women can expect swings & roundabouts just like the men - they will be treated like monarchy when young & beautiful, with the men their willing slaves, but nothing lasts forever & the roundabout keeps turning... What Ophuls gives - here more than anywhere else - is the reality of seeing the world, & especially men & women, as they are & have always been, & rejoicing in it, in the eternal dance.
Another reviewer here wrote of the narrator of this film, "he wouldn't change a thing about Life and Sex if he could", & that about sums up Ophuls' philosophy better than anything else I could say, & also what he offers us so unlike anyone else.
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