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It is a widespread superstition that when a book is filmed, the movie is usually inferior to the book. The most probable explanation of this groundless idea is that many people have read this or that book, say, Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'. When they learn that the book has been filmed, they are induced to go and see the movie. And often they become disappointed. By contrast, only a negligible minority will first see a movie, discover that it is a filmed novel, and therefore read the book. I happen to belong to this minority. And I am capable of presenting a long list of books which turned out to be inferior. Gabor von Vaszery's novel 'Monpti' is merely one example among many others. However, von Vaszery also wrote the script for the movie. I have carefully studied every difference between the movie and the novel. It is my view that in each and every case the film version is superior if assessed in itself, while the book version fits more properly into the work as a whole. But I also claim that the film version is invariably so much improved, that only a formalist could prefer the book version. Besides, the movie is also superior whenever there is no obvious difference between both. - - - In my youth I thought that Romy Schneider is beautiful, but not more beautiful than many other actresses or even extras in her own movies. I also meant that she is a skilled actress but not more skilled than many others. Later, my fascination was caused by two movies, 'Monpti' and 'Claire de femmes'. I was 53 when I saw 'Monpti' for the first time. Whether or not it is a subjective idea, I still think that 'Monpti' is the best German movie ever made.
Romy Schneider and Horst Buchholz had teamed up the year before in
"Robinson Soll nicht sterben" which dealt with Daniel Defoe's
childhood.They were Germany's then biggest stars ,particularly Romy who
grew in popularity in the wake of the Sissi saga.
Horst Buchholz had also been the hero of the German version of Julien Duvivier's "Marianne de Ma Jeunesse" and Helmut Kautner was certainly influenced by the French director whose "Sous le Ciel de Paris" (and other movies)revolved around the whims of fate ,with a voice over and lots of pessimism.Actually it was the first time Schneider had left the schmaltzy stuff and a French critic wrote that "Monpti" was the movie which explained her further evolution.It was not yet Welles or Visconti but it was a step in the right direction.
Filmed on location in Paris ,it often takes place in the Luxembourg gardens in the Latin Quarter.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Days of yore, the streets of Paris, order and mess, people and
buildings, cars and traffic, and... a middle aged man that wants to
tell us a story, partly humorous, partly sad one: a love story...
The movie begins in a pretty strange way, particularly when we consider the year it was made in. It seems to be too messy, without any order, beginning so much in the middle. Nevertheless, the opening 5-10 minutes explain what the action is going at. We soon realize that it is the main hero who speaks to us and attempts to tell us something that means much to him.
Yes, that is what MONPTI will leave in your memory most. It is a beautiful, innocent STORY about genuine love of two poor young people who meet by chance and fall in love. Monpti (Horst Buchholz) is a young man who makes a living painting pictures and selling them in Paris. He is lost, lonely, confused in many situations but...happiness comes to him through a young girl Anne Claire (Romy Schneider) whom he once meets in a park and with whom he falls in love. She is very young, beautiful, innocent but there is one problem about her which Monpti does not see: all she tells him is an illusive lie about her alleged chauffeur, wealthy family and engagement. Yet, how straightforward, how naive these lies are! She lives in the fantasy of wealth and feels good about it or at least more comfortable. However, their youthful love and joy comparable to kissing three oranges is contrasted with another couple who are considerably older and who live in luxury comparable to cold elegance and restrained emotions. This overly rich couple is there for some purpose, as the narrator tells us...
The movie's another advantage, except for the aforementioned story, are its many humorous moments. Although MONPTI is rather sad in its content and sometimes even melancholic, it is filled with wonderful humor that will appeal to various viewers. I loved the scene in a luxurious restaurant where Monpti is so confused how to behave, how to eat being so close to "flames of fire"... The whole sequence with a little duck, Napoleon, is also very amusing. The duck is simply all he (Monpti) has, except for love, that he can offer Anne Claire - lovely little Napoleon lost in such a hilarious situation. Considering humor, I should also mention Monpti and Anne Claire's first meeting in the park: "Did I really say that?" wonders the girl and the boy takes everything so seriously...
Another aspect of the movie is the title melody, a song that Monpti once puts on when Anne Claire visits him. It has melancholy, affection but also a great fun and vitality in some parts and, as a result, fits to the movie really well. The rising and declining tunes indeed express the emotional states of the main heroes: Hungarian in Paris who finds himself in the most unexpected circumstances, a poor girl who dreams to be rich and independent. To this artistic aspect, I have to add the performances of the two: Romy Schneider and Horst Buchholz. They fit as a couple and act convincingly. You just watch and feel as if it's a real young couple head over heels in love.
There is one more aspect that I have to mention: the historical one. Keeping in mind that the film was made in 1957 in Herzog studio, it is a purely German movie (just to remind the fact that Herzog is famous for many movies by Ernst Marischka, the director of SISSI). Yet, it puts aside the style of most German and Austrian movies of that time: what we find in MONPTI is the lack of linear plot, there are flashbacks showing dreams and fantasies; there is a mixture of comedy and drama addressing social situations. The contrast put on the couples appears to represent the thought provoking problem of social discrepancies: the rich and the poor and how the two groups regard the world. Dreams refer to the Freudian psychoanalytic theory of man with his desires and, consequently, German cinema partly contains the surreal. The lack of linear action resembles the superiority of character development to story itself. Therefore, the movie is something innovative for 1950s German cinema. It is also another movie that "cured" Romy of the sweet image of Sissi and constituted a "preludium" to her French career (of course not the only film doing that but an important and an early one - 1957).
MONPTI is a nice underrated film about simplicity, youthful joy, pure affection that all young people may get through when they only want to. It's also a wonderful insight into a change introduced in cinema. Highly recommended! 7/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
And yet another Romy Schneider movie, but more importantly my 6th film
by Helmut Käutner, one of the world's best directors. Saw this as a
part of a small ongoing Romy Schneider homage at my cinema of choice in
a good 35mm print with most of the color-palette still intact. The film
is completely dazzling, and as some say this is Käutner's biggest coup
de main, though I'm not so sure myself, I definitely cannot disagree.
Monpti left me a bit dumbfounded, gasping for air, as it's as fast as
seemingly innocent while going through the motions in a nether-land
somewhere between Andrzej Zulawski's Possession (1981) and Ernst
Marischka's Sissi (1955). Definitely one-of-its-kind, this is a
testament to the 50s as a disjointed decade stuck between the 40s and
60s, on a planet of its own.
Currently the film is difficult to pin down or accurately describe for me, and I hope to see it a second time on the big screen today. All I can say is: magnificent, enchanting, disturbing, full of surprises and definitely a film that is as iconic for Romy Schneider as any other she ever made. I am clearly running out of fitting adjectives to describe this exuberance of a film that is successfully masquerading as yet another German 50s romantic comedy. Käutner seems the personified understatement.
When I was seventeen years young - or old if you like - a lot of things
were complete secrets in our home. Twelve children and a serious but
very Catholic father was married with a clever and soft mother. The two
of them had to take care of seven sisters and five brothers. My father
was allowed to read the fist translation of the Bible in a Roman
Catholic translation. That was new in the Roman Catholic world.
The four books were well translated, nicely edited and professionally published by the Petrus Canisius Foundation. One evening I went to a cinema and saw the amazing movie 'Monpti' (French for Mon Petit that in fact should be 'Mapetite' for a girl like Romy Schneider.
The author of the original book was Gabor von Vaszary who wrote it in German although he was a born Hungarian. The soft and one of the best German film-directors, Helmuth Kaütner, made a fine film with no nonsense but a lot of simple and - only economically - cheap. I have wondered if it is possible to make a new version with the same respect for youngsters who take life serious but make it a joy because real love has that power... joy in life.
The best friend of my father was a Member of the Dutch Parliament. He understood my hidden attack on the extremely severe rules of the Church. And strangely enough: he defended my thesis on the strict rules of the Institution. We had a good chat that opened to me the door to life as it is and not as it should be organized by a world strange religious Institution. About a year ago I read von Vaszary's book and was flabbergasted about the language of Kaütner's movie en von Vaszary's text.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Monpti" is a West German German-language film from 1957 and like the other Romy Schneider works, it is in color too. It is a much more modern tale compared to the films she usually starred in. It is uncompromising, in your face and there are authentically dramatic events taking place here. A lot may have to do with the talented Horst Buchholz being the male lead. And these two worked very well together as a young couple where both have personal struggles, especially Schneider's character. The chemistry was good and the plot (development) felt plausible. It is novel-based and one of the people who adapted the material is Helmut Käutner, who is also the director who made this film and was among the most successful German filmmakers from his time. And with "Monpti" (the name Schneider's character gives Buchholz'), he adds another pretty good movie to his resumée. I also liked the city setting here. it was just so refreshing to see Schneider in entirely different surroundings than usual and it worked very well with the story too. My reference in the title has to do with the Hawke/Delpy "Before" films and if they had existed already when "Monpti" was made, then this may have been what it looked like. These over 90 minutes are certainly one of the better German film efforts from the 1950s. I recommend the watch.
This film could be a real gem if it would not be a fake; it is largely sustained by the great performance of the 2 actors, also there is a pleasant and fortunate choice of characters around them, the screen play has wonderful passages but ... the whole is incredibly wasted under a ton of moralistic non sense mainly anti sexual: the lovers go around spending their passion in thousands of kisses but never are able to complete it with what you are expecting they must do; instead here is the punishment; after the last stupid, unbelievable and meaningless misunderstanding the girl run away and is knocked down by a car; he visits her at the hospital all seems OK but when he comes again the doctor says she is dead; what do you expect him to do, perhaps bursting into tears? Not at all, he's chilly, calm and serene as it was exactly what he was hoping from the romance. Pure Christian style: the woman who thinks to sex dies.
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