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An all-knowing interlocutor guides us through a series of affairs in Vienna, 1900. A soldier meets an eager young lady of the evening. Later he has an affair with a young lady, who becomes a maid and does similarly with the young man of the house. The young man seduces a married woman. On and on, spinning on the gay carousel of life.Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My very first Ophüls film, a breezy studio-bound adaption of Arthur Schnitzler's play "Reigen", set in the 1980s in Vienna (yes, I'm freshly returning from a one-week vacation in Vienna). Structurally, LA RONDE adheres firmly to the play's ten liaisons, each stars one pair of its 10 characters in a sequential order, starts with the whore (Signoret) and the solider (Reggiani), then the soldier and the housemaid (Simon), the housemaid and the young gentleman (Gélin), and so forth until it finishes with the Count (Philipe) and the whore, thus consummates "la ronde".
One prominent change is that Ophüls introduces an all-knowing raconteur (Walbrook), who is quite omnipresent, not only shepherds viewers into each story, but takes on minor roles whenever transition from one scene to another is needed as well, Walbrook is vivacious and stylish as the master of ceremonies, croons the theme strain from time to time, slyly breaks the fourth wall or intervenes in the happenings occasionally; whereas the sundry characters are primarily driven by their desire and impulsion regardless of their identities, each is equally allotted a fifteen-minute or so screen time divided into two parts with two different opposite-sex, like the merry-go-round in the background, they flirt, seduce, debate, banter and having sex (off-screen) in the most casual fashion, when they put on their clothes again, no string is attached, they can continue a small talk like friends or just move on to the next chapter without hesitation. It is the quintessential of cinematic operetta doesn't impose on lecturing viewers, only to divert, to flirt, to vivify the atmosphere and to evince the Franco-philosophy of c'est la vie!
Essentially the film is a star-studded celebrity parade, household names like Signoret, Simon, Darrieux, Miranda and Philipe etc. are indisputably in their most magnificent form although none of them is given too much fodder to capitalise on, it is all the same, for cinephiles alone, an eye-opening feast to worship, thanks to the fluid camera-work and the florid production exclusively set inside the studio, it is an escapist's utter pleasure to accommodate oneself to a sumptuous period where everything looks so nostalgically charming and beguilingly narcissistic, so we can all be free and easy, at least for 97-minutes.
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