A witty journey through the history of Paris told to a group of students by Sacha Guitry, from its foundation at the time of Caesar to 1955. Among others you will meet King Charles VII ... See full summary »
A witty journey through the history of Paris told to a group of students by Sacha Guitry, from its foundation at the time of Caesar to 1955. Among others you will meet King Charles VII making Agnès Sorel his mistress; you will witness the creation of printing spurred on by King Louis XI; share the life in the Louvres Palace at the time of King François Ier; spend the last night before St Bartholomew's massacre; be horrified by the murder of Henri III by a fanatical monk, watch the abjuration of protestantism by King Henri IV; try to resolve the Man in the Iron Mask enigma; take part in the storming of the Bastille, be present at the execution of King Louis XVI and at the trial of Queen Marie-Antoinette; participate in the Paris Commune, take sides in the Dreyfus affair. Written by
Sacha Guitry made several historical mistakes. For example, when King Charles VII meets Agnès Sorel and makes her his mistress she tells him the year is 1432, which is impossible since in that very year she was only ten. See more »
Sacha Guitry died in 1957 and he did not know whether he would finish his movie...He wanted Henri-Georges Clouzot to replace him should he disappear before his work was over.
It was not to be fortunately .It's Guitry's legacy,and it's a delight.Try to see the two movies ("Si Versailles m'était conté and "Si Paris" ) one after the other.They are both witty films ,full of humor -this humor which the Nouvelle Vague did not know- of puns,of anachronisms,of likely stories and historical games.
Guitry's plan was to tell the tale of Paris.Five students come to his house and tell the writer/director history they are taught in their schools is a big bore .As if they were listening to Sheherazade they begin to listen...and we do too...
Unlike so many historical epics,Guitry's work is not linear ,going back and forth between past and present,mixing true historic lines (trial of Marie-Antoinette for instance) and scenes of his own devising (Voltaire's armchair ) It's important to notice the presence of old people and of death in a movie which is a comedy: Guitry insists on the dying Voltaire, and on the centenarians (Fontenelle and the "Cocotte" (= courtezan)).In "Si Versailles..." the best sequences were those where King Louis XIV was getting old .Guitry himself was seriously ill at the time.
Guitry's art is often dazzling:he mixes music,songs (though the
part played by Gerard Philipp is rather bland),dance,mime (and Louis de Funès's talent burgeoning),paintings (Winterhalter's famous "Empress Eugenie and her ladies-in-waiting" suddenly becomes a lively sequence where those women complain about crinoline dresses)...
Many scenes take place in the Bastille ,and deal with its prisoners and the famous Lettres de Cachet which allowed the king to imprison whoever he wanted .Much to the Parisians' surprise after the storming of the prison,there were only seven prisoners then,including two madmen.
Guitry's takes clichés we used to find in old history books (and even still find today)and pushes them to absolute absurdity.Most of the time,it is brilliant: Henri the Fourth had a double (in case of assassination,cause his predecessor Henri the Third was murdered by a monk).When the king (the real king) is killed by Ravaillac,the "stuntman" runs to his mom and shouts :"At last!" Mother gives a sigh of relief "the nightmare's over!"
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