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.
Based on Guitry's own stage play about a sanctimonious fellow who eventually's victimized by his own hypocrisy. Little effort's made to "cinematize" the property, which's filmed just as it was staged. .
Alexandre, a young and honest farmer, is oppressed by an authoritarian wife, who makes him work like a dog. When she dies in a car crash, he decides to stay in bed, absolutely free and ... See full summary »
When Louis XVI summoned the Etats-Generaux, he unleashes a revolution that would change his country and cost his life. This is the story of one of the crucial points in the history of France, and Europe, divided into two parts.
Richard T. Heffron
Klaus Maria Brandauer,
Sacha Guitry was cleared of allegations of collaboration in 1947. He returned to the stage with his play about the diplomat Talleyrand and committed it to celluloid the following year. He is absolutely magnificent in the role and bears an uncanny resemblance to the portrait of Talleyrand by Ary Scheffer. By far the strongest scenes are those where Talleyrand exhibits his formidable negotiating skills in Vienna and London. His scenes with his mistress Catherine Grand, played by the fascinating Lana Marconi are also effective . The chemistry between these two actors is palpable not least because she was to become, at the age of twenty-eight, his fifth wife. Guitry, by the way, was a mere sixty-two. Diable chanceax! He is supposed to have remarked to her'others were only my wives but you will be my widow'. In this he turned out to be remarkably prescient! There is a rather bizarre interlude involving a Spanish dancer and an extremely hammy scene from the 'Barber of Seville' which the film could have done without. The casting of Emile Drain as Napoleon is unfortunate as he is an actor utterly devoid of talent or charisma. Guitry favourite Pauline Carton supplies the comedy relief as a clairvoyant. On the whole this is a very well constructed biopic with excellent production values and a central performance by a consummate artiste. He was by the way, to play this fascinating character again in his rather overblown extravaganza 'Napoleon'. On this occasion the Emperor is played by two actors neither of whom is Emile Drain I am pleased to say!
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