|Index||2 reviews in total|
Although The Scarlet Pimpernel was not as disappointing as I had
feared, it left me greatly unhappy. Madame Guillotine corrected many of
its prequels most egregious
problems. I was thrilled by Percy's impersonation of Chauvelin, as it was very true to the spirit of the books, where Percy is a master of disguise rather than a prototype for James Bond. Marguerite was lovely and the Blakeneys' interaction both effective and believable. Plus, Grant has always done wonderfully as Sir Percival Blakeney, Baronet. Overall, it felt as though the crew has really found its feet. Still not as good, however, as the 1982 version with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour. If you want to see Pimpernel done right, watch that film.
(and, in a completely pointless side note, I LOVE the theme song. The furtive, halting opening measures are ideal as is the overall lighthearted tone. Perfect for the insouciant Scarlet Pimpernel)
This is 'based on' at least three of Orczy's 'Scarlet Pimpernel' series - 'Mam'zelle Guillotine', 'The Elusive Pimpernel' (Marguerite being used as bait), and 'Sir Percy Hits Back' (Chauvelin's past) - but only very loosely. Which is why I prefer it to the first Richard E. Grant 'Scarlet Pimpernel': it isn't a retelling of a familiar story, it's a new screenplay working from the key plots of three lesser known novels. I therefore couldn't object as wholeheartedly as I did to the dreadful 'interpretation' of the main story. Overall, this was very exciting and beautifully filmed, but there is still something lacking with the main characters. Richard E. Grant is a very good actor, but he is not Sir Percy - he's far too energetic as the foppish baronet, and too arrogant as the Pimpernel. Anthony Green, here lurking in the supporting cast as Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, would have been a better choice. And Elizabeth McGovern does not live up to the role of the beautiful and impulsive Marguerite: I know the actress had to concentrate on a stiff British accent, but even when she isn't speaking, she struggles with portraying strong emotions (the inane smile as she nursed somebody who was dying, for instance - tears? Anguish?) McGovern doesn't even look delicate and graceful in the lavish costumes she got to wear, thus even failing as a clothes horse! The other cast members, particularly Denise Black as Mam'zelle Guillotine and Ronan Vibert as Robespierre, were much more successful, managing to nail Orczy's descriptions and portray strong characters on screen. I was relieved to find the scene where Sir Percy announces himself as Chauvelin to Mam'zelle Guillotine - a return to the spirit of the book, if a little lacking in creative disguise (leaning heavily on bluff and bluster, rather than dressing the part), although the tension was rather let down by the 'interaction' of McGovern's Marguerite. And the 'seduction' was not out of character for Sir Percy - or rather, the character Sir Percy was playing - as the Scarlet Pimpernel gets rather too close to Gabrielle (albeit in a Victorian sense) in the book as well.
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