Not much to say in favor of this. If you expect anything near the greatness of, say, Napoléon or Le Capitaine Fracasse or even Un grand Amour de Beethoven, you will be sorry for your move. Costumes and sets are ugly-looking, ridiculous and historically inaccurate (one of the quality you would expect at least of a soap historic melodrama), direction is quite pedestrian, color photography a failure to capture anything but a sorry-looking page in three colors of our grand-parents' illustrated albums. A fact to be mentioned in a picture by Abel Gance : it provides neither a single image nor a single sequence to be remembered. While you watch it, you will yawn, start to do something else while checking occasionally that nothing interesting happens on the screen and go back to it with the satisfaction that you're not losing anything, or you will absorb it like a sleeping drug. And the acting is poor. Even the great Pierre Brasseur and the already fine Michel Bouquet try their best with their cretinous parts but don't manage to convey anything if a reflection of the silliness of the whole piece. And indeed, the other reviewers have at least a point, the film is true to its origin, the French 19th century historic (even more pretentious) melodrama, in that the picture is as bad, far-fetched and feeble-minded as its dramatic ancestor from the paternity of which we must exonerate Alexandre Dumas. You remember Les Enfants du paradis and the awful play, L'Auberge des Adrets. This melodrama is exactly contemporary with La Tour de Nesle. The great actor Frédérick Lemaître (oddly it is also played by Pierre Brasseur) makes a success out of this incredible shambles by making fun of each situation and tuning the melodrama into a comedic contrapuntal masterpiece. It is not what is intended by Gance or Pierre Brasseur, and it is not achieved. By the way, melodramas and movies often turned out right. Not this time. One of the very worst pictures directed by one of the world's most acclaimed and legendary filmmakers (hand in hand with Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe by Jean Renoir for the same reason). A piece for amateurs of old-fashioned pieces of trash. Anger as high as were my expectations from that director. Really, a turkey of a movie.
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