A history of the French Revolution from the decision of the king to convene the Etats-Generaux in 1789 in order to deal with France's debt problem. The first part of the movie tells the ... See full summary »
Richard T. Heffron
Klaus Maria Brandauer,
Two young people, Walter and Charlotte, are walking through a small village in Switzerland a snowy winter day. Walter introduces Charlotte to Clara, hoping to make Charlotte jealous. After ... See full summary »
A careless mother hires a young tutor to bring up her son's marks, as bad in mathematics as in French language. The young woman tries to teach the boy the easiest things in the curriculum, ... See full summary »
An episodic look at Grace Elliott (1760-1823) and Philippe, the Duke of Orleans, during the French Revolution. In 1790, they are friends, no longer lovers. He suggests she leave France, she warns him to quit the Revolution. In 1792, she must escape Paris on foot. Less than a month later, she returns on an errand of mercy and shows great courage saving the governor of Tuileries. The Duke in turn steps in to protect Grace. In early 1793, she demands a promise from the Duke that he vote to spare Louis's life; he does not, and Grace is furious. In April, he warns her of a search; she is arrested and brought before the committee. Orleans, too, is suspect. The guillotine awaits. Written by
Eric Rohmer seems to have wanted to produce a docudrama, and has made a very interesting go of it. As film fiction, it's not very good, and not even the camera work is engaging. However, many of the film's qualities are worth considering. That gritty, antique, and "real" Paris we crave is by now a cliché. However, Rohmer's computer-enhanced tableaux of revolutionary Paris, by contrast, effectively evoke period art. Indeed they are filmed engravings. Do they "work"? Perhaps not as any sort of realism; however, they remind us that this film is history and philosophy, not just drama. I felt that their deliberate alienation was interesting. The growing terror of the revolution is Rohmer's chief concern. In this film, it is palpable and fearsome, and evokes some of the totalitarianisms of the 20th century. There is certainly a story arc and as much dramatic tension as anyone could ask for. The trial scene is both exciting and intimate. The actor Dreyfus gives a luminous performance -- passionate, thoughtful, riveting. Although this film takes a long time to get itself unwound, one might even be captivated -- de-captivated! -- by the end.
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