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Vittorio De Sica
Much better if you understand the context and purpose of the story.
Following the easy defeat of the French by the Prussians in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, there were lots of recriminations on the government of Napoleon III. Many, such as the writer Emil Zola, saw it the result of over-confidence and decadence--and his story "Nana" was meant as a biting indictment against his society and government. However, most of this is missing in this 1955 version of the story-- one that looks nice but lacks the satire and underlying bite.
Nana is a stage actress of questionable talent. Nevertheless, she is a huge hit and the men of Paris adore her. While the film is a bit vague here, she clearly was a prostitute--working her way up from the streets to becoming the mistress of the rich and powerful. The story focuses mostly on a government minister, the Count Muffat (Charles Boyer) and his infatuation with this 'lady'. So, although Muffat is a champion of traditional values and family, under the influence of Nana, he's a hypocrite and libertine. And, during the course of his fling with Nana, you see that every man who comes under her spell is somehow ruined.
The obvious meanings in the story, as I said, are lost here in the film. It's a film about an alluring, selfish and amoral woman and not much more. As such, it is entertaining and looks quite nice but lacks the depth of the original tale. Good but nothing much more.
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