Colonel Chabert has been severely wounded in the French-Russian Napoleonic war to the point that the medical examiner has signed his death certificate. When he regains his health and memory...
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Colonel Chabert has been severely wounded in the French-Russian Napoleonic war to the point that the medical examiner has signed his death certificate. When he regains his health and memory, he goes back to Paris, where his "widow", Anne has married the Count Ferraud and is financing his rise to power using Chabert's money. Chabert hires a lawyer to help him get back his money and his honor. Written by
Dragomir R. Radev <email@example.com>
The look is superb, the design, costumes etc are flawless, the post battle scenes and the cavalry charge are both chilling and exciting.
The characters are vivid and really human. Ardent is right and Fabrice Luchini as the lawyer Derville steals the movie with his clever pedantic rodent-like performance, delighting in the ups and downs of others' misfortunes. Depardieu is good but perhaps too large a presence for this role.
Where the film really excels is the story and also its changes from Balzac's novella. Those changes are editorial in that Balzac has lots of discussion on society and this film breaths with characters. Nevertheless Yves Angelo has retained the key ingredient, not just the missing man trying to regain his place in society but every character has to find their place in society: the Comte Ferraud is trying to buy a peerage, his wife (Ardent) comes from a lowly birth and when she was married to Colonel Chabert they achieved their position in the turbulence of post-revolutionary France. Everyone has something to lose in terms of status and that makes for a good drama as their objectives are in conflict with each other.
It also feels very modern: money is critical to buy status to reach power, but someone can go down as quickly as they go up. Derville enjoys the strategy, he has seen the worst of people he says to Chabert when he takes the case. This speech's original place is at the end of the novella as Balzac sums up the human comedy with huge irony.
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