From 1769 to 1821, Napoléon Bonaparte's life, loves and exceptional destiny but as seen through the eyes of Talleyrand, the cynic and ironic politician, who once was the Emperor of France's Minister of Foreign Affairs.
A religious fanatic finds his entire life and philosophy turned upside-down as he falls in love with a girl and kills her in a jealous rage. His search is for peace of mind and a desire to ... See full summary »
Now you know where jean-Pierre Jeunet found his title for his 2002 blockbuster but Désirée 's destiny was more ...fabulous than Amélie's and where Henry Koster found his inspiration for the Brando/Simmons 1954 version.
I would not go as far as to write ,like the talented reviewer Benoit Racine,that it is Guitry's best" historical" movie;there are plenty of them and I must confess like his extravaganzas such as "Les Perles De La Couronne" or " Si Versailles M'Etait Conté " best.
The movie is divided in two distinct parts ,separated by the cast and credits in the middle of the story (which for the time,was not usual;still isn't).As usual ,Guitry appears in the flesh ,thanking the cameraman,the set designer,the editor...;most amazing thing,instead of making the actors look older,he uses different ones :Jean-Louis Barrault ,for instance is asked to give his part of Napoleon to his own director !
The first part is just OK but it's the second one which reveals Guitry the megalomaniac genius ,obsessed with immortality and mortality (the short shot of Bernadotte on his death bed );that someone can surpass him is unbearable and more than Désirée ,it's his former Marechal who fascinates the director/Emperor ;and although Bernadotte ended his life gloriously and gracefully ,history hardly remembers him,apart from people from Sweden whereas the prisoner of Sainte Helene is talked about here there and everywhere.
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