Who was Moliere? He is known everywhere as one of the world's greatest playwrights. But who was he? Born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in 1622, the son of a prosperous tapestry maker. His mother ... See full summary »
Who was Moliere? He is known everywhere as one of the world's greatest playwrights. But who was he? Born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin in 1622, the son of a prosperous tapestry maker. His mother died when he was a boy. Growing up in the teeming streets of 17th century Paris, Jean Baptiste received a good Jesuit education and was fascinated by the street fairs and traveling carnivals that flourished in spite of the religious repression and hypocrisy of those cruel times. As a young man he joined the theatrical Bejart family to establish the Illustre-Theatre, which soon went bankrupt. The troupe reformed, found patronage, and went on the road for thirteen years, performing all over France. Poquelin developed his stagecraft adapting Commedia dell Arte plots to please brutalized peasants and cynical townspeople. He also married Madeline Bejart, the widowed daughter of the troupe's founder. Later he entered into a love affair with Mme Bejart's daughter, to the dismay of all. The troupe eventually... Written by
John Christopher <firstname.lastname@example.org> revised by John Chapot
I saw this film over 20 years ago in a small art cinema, and would pay almost any price to have it on DVD. After 4 hours, it left me wanting to see more. The story, direction, photography and soundtrack are all outstanding, and (as other reviewers have remarked) many of the images are unforgettable. As a French theater director, Mnouchkine has an unsurpassed insight into both Moliere and the life of the theater. She also gives us a gripping (and historically accurate) portrayal of the precarious position of actors in Moliere's France, especially when they dared to satirize powerful people or institutions. The only other film remotely comparable is Carne's Children of Paradise, which (unlike Mnouchkine's Moliere) subordinates its portrayal of the theater world to the romantic plot. Mikhail Bulgakov, by the way, wrote a wonderful play about Moliere which is similar in tone to Mnouchkine's film.
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