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Mata Hari, la vraie histoire (2003)
A woman spy story during World War I
A very honest historical recreation of a famous romantic episode of WWI, the trial and execution of Mata Hari, the renowned exotic dancer and adventuress, not to say high class prostitute, turned international spy. The movie focuses on the relationship between the officer in charge of the enquiry and Mata Hari herself, now a prisoner at the Hôpital St Lazare, which mostly housed "fallen women" at the time. The dialogues are taut and sharp, the ambiguities of the accused and of the prosecutor keep up the spectator's interest even if, as in Greek tragedies, we all know the ending beforehand. Bernard Giraudeau is remarkable as the prosecutor, and the final scene, in the famous moat of Vincennes, is sober and full of dignity.
France, 16th century. A Catholic diplomat negotiates with Protestant leaders.
A rather broke but dedicated Catholic baron is sent by King Charles IX of France to negotiate with some Protestant representatives during the religious wars of the 16th century. His dedication, however, is more to his job and the success of his mission than to his young wife and family. The settings, the actual châteaux where the story took place; the dialogs, written in clear, pure classical French; the restrained but perfect acting make this film much more than another historical illustration. It shows, through the destiny of one man, how "reasons of state" will bring both satisfaction and bitterness, accomplishment and ruin, during the ill-fated bloody night of the St Barthelemy massacre (of which nothing is shown on screen).