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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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I've just read all the previous comments on this and I'm surprised that none of them apparently grasped that the main thrust of the plot was the passing of venereal disease from one character to another. It's not just coincidence that the first coupling is between a prostitute and a soldier - prostitutes traditionally work near army barracks and are, or arguably were in 1900, more likely to be carriers of venereal disease than most other women simply because by definition they had sex with more men than the average woman, married or single, in 1900. The vastly overrated semi-Amateur film maker Jean-Luc Godard dismissed both the film and one of France's leading actors (Gerard Philippe) with the words 'France's worst actor in France's worst film', which in itself should be sufficient to send all intelligent people flocking to see La Ronde. It is, of course, dated. It has to be, it was made 54 years ago yet it still retains that quality that has always eluded and will always elude Godard, Style. What if not stylish should we call it when our self-appointed narrator, Anton Walbrook, discards his slightly down-market raincoat and dons an opera cape to lead us to a sleazy quarter of Vienna and make us privy to the initial sexual encounter, the first, of course, of many, between prostitute Simone Signoret and soldier Serge Reggiani (soon to play similar roles in Jacques Becker's 'Casque d'Or') and provide the first 'take' on love/sex which is indifference; even when Signoret is prepared to waive her fee Reggiani disdains free sex on the grounds that her room is a ten minute walk from where they met and only reluctantly does he finally agree to an al fresco coupling from which he hurries away with barely a 'thank you', let alone a cigarette. Cynicism is still rampant in the next encounter in which Regginani seduces Simone Simon's comely housemaid then hurries back to the dance where they had met. Cynicism of a different sort informs the next encounter when the young man of the house (Daniel Gelin) where Simon is employed practices his seduction technique on her before attempting it with the real thing in the shape of older, married Danielle Darrieux. This episode, together with its successor (Darrieux and her husband, Fernand Gravey) serves as a filmic equivalent of an interval in a theatre (the film is based, as is widely known, on a play by Viennese playwright Artur Schnitzler)and Gelin's initial impotence is metaphored subtly (for 1950) by the breaking down of the roundabout which allows Ophuls to cut away to Walbrook in mechanic mode and then back to a now successful Gelin consummating his infatuation for Darrieux. And so it goes on, brief encounters, longer liaisons, just like life in fact. Virtually all of the cast had or would appear in classic films, not least Jean-Pierre Barrault, so memorable in 'Les Enfants du Paradis', Gerard Philippe, the original 'Fanfan le Tulipe' with 'Les Orgueillex' still to come, Serge Reggiani, a veteran of 'Les Portes de la Nuit', laughed off the screen in 1946 and now regarded rightly as a masterpiece, and so on, arguably only Isa Miranda as the actress let the side down. All in all a triumph. 8/10
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