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A retelling of Paul Feval's Le Bossu, with a number of changes. The
intrigue is a little more complex in the uncut version, which allows a
greater development of the friendship that develops between Lagardere
and the Duc de Nevers. Instead of a gypsy circus, Lagardere hides with
Aurore in Spain, taking occasional trips through Europe hunting down
the surviving assassins of the Duke, looking for the shadowed killer
whose hand was pierced by Lagardere's dagger after stabbing the Duke in
the back. The only drawback I found was that the Duke's special fencing
move, the Botte de Nevers seemed a little overused in the movie.
A very well done movie with a few twists and turns. Good performances by nearly all the actors (I found Yvon Backe's de Gonzague a little weak), with Clio Baran doing a good job as an Aurore with the wit, wiliness and feistiness of her natural and adoptive fathers. The dialogue is very well written and rendered, but you'll need to know French to understand it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Major Spoilers re plot .......
I loved the Le Bossu movies starring Jean Marais and later Daniel Auteuil. The first is I think the best in keeping to Feval's story, not just the events but also a sense of reality - and how the characters would have been at the turn of the 17th/18th centuries in France - Lagardere already well-known in Paris in spite of his youth in the early part of the story as an ex-soldier, superior swordsman and charismatic gallant whose orphan past is mitigated by his natural dignity as the lost son of a murdered Comte, and some training befitting him for his eventual elevation to Comte de Nevers. Aurore a demure young lady behaving as one of the noble class would in those days. And the welcome inclusion of the book's long and delightful Spanish sequence. The later version (which I saw first) is modernised in style with a very feisty young heroine who herself learns to perform her father's famous Botte and uses it too to kill a noble intent on raping her, whilst Lagardere is in many ways the young hero of the prequel written by Feval's son about Lagardere's childhood and early teens. The setting of the travelling circus's almost dreamy procession filling 16 years or so of Lagardere and Aurore time hiding from her father's murderer comes straight out of the prequel. In itself this is absolutely charming throughout, but I would have preferred the Bossu book's Spanish sequence and Lagardere's much more successful situation.
The Marais movie was restricted I imagine by the standard movie length of the time so most of the plot detail had to be omitted and only the major scenes used but it still works very well. The Auteuil movie was able to be longer but although enormous fun I think suffers a little from the change of personality in Lagardere himself into a hard-up struggling unknown - although I was surprised that this version of Lagarder was so canny about finance in the hunchback sequence which in itself is interesting and extended and close to the book.
Well, nothing wrong I would say in a few changes in the case of a very famous story that's been filmed so many times, although I being new to it and so keen on the book would have preferred to see the classic Marais style of movie but extended.
There's a reason to this mention of the earlier versions. When I discovered the TV series and that it was much longer than either of the movies, I expected the Feval story in as much detail as possible, and indeed to a great extent it is that although again Lagardere is shown as a struggling unknown rather than the book's quite sophisticated young hero. The problems come in part two, when Aurore remains a lively but rather immature young teenager clearly far too young for the adult love that grows between Lagardere and Aurore in the book. After being delighted by part one and adequately pleased by Lagardere's actor, I became increasingly mystified in part two as Aurore simply didn't grow up and Lagardere clearly became entranced by her mother. I read somewhere that the people making this version decided they should be PC and it wasn't acceptable for Lagardere to marry the girl who'd thought he was her father during her childhood. But this is I think nonsense, since in the book she learns the truth well before any romance starts between them and they aren't in any way related except in adversity.
Much depends on how that is presented. It's no problem in the book. It's no problem in the Marais movie. It only becomes an "issue" in the Auteuil movie when Aurore's affection for "her father" turns to adult love the moment she learns he's not her father whereupon she assumes she will be marrying him and asks him to embrace her as a lover, implying that the relationship was perhaps a little too close pre her leaning the truth. So perhaps the TV makers were affected more by the Auteuil movie which perhaps aroused some questions about incest (?) than by the book's not in the least incestuous approach.
I was very upset by the plot change, pairing Lagardere with Aurore's mother but I expect this would work very well for anyone who doesn't mind who he ends up with or hasn't read the book?
That said, this is a great fun TV series and I only docked the stars to 7 because I was so very disappointed myself re the changed ending and Aurore remaining so childish.
Later addendum. I've just found the Jean Piat remastered TV version of this great story. This is definitely the best. Not a moment in it jars, and as it says it does keep most closely to the book and even includes bits from La Jeuness du Bossu and the alternative Feval Fils ending of the primary story followed by a bit of Feval Fils's first sequels. This Piat version doesn't include anything about the Mississippi financial fiddle. So I'm glad that was included in the Auteuil version. I guess if I could mix all 4 versions together into one it'd have almost everything.
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