In the Paris of the late 19th century, Louise, wife of a general, sells the earrings her husband gave her as a wedding gift: she needs money to cover her debts. The general secretly buys the earrings again and gives them to his mistress, Lola, leaving to go to Constantinople. Where an Italian diplomat, Baron Donati, buys them. Back to Paris, Donati meets Louise... So now Louise discovers love and becomes much less frivolous.Written by
Director Max Ophüls only signed on to direct this film once his project to adapt Honoré de Balzac's novel, "La Duchesse de Langeais" fell through. This defunct project was intended to be a comeback vehicle for Greta Garbo. Ophüls felt that Garbo, like himself, was particularly adept at portraying the humanity and emotions of a doomed romance. Incidentally, Garbo's costume tests for the ill-fated project would prove to be her very last professional work. Once the project fell through, however, Ophüls turned his attention to making this film. See more »
When the general gives the earrings to Lola on the train, she is crying and has her little bag on her lap. In the next cut, the bag is on the table. See more »
The most striking element of this film is the way in which the camera maintains such a fluid and sensitive movement, creating a sense of frustrated distance between the action within the film and those viewing it. The opening sequence introduces us to this technique, as we follow the search of the Countess through her dressing table, and gradually are shown the reflection of her face in the mirror. Throughout the film there are numerous long, fluid shots, often following a character physically through a series of situations and sets. The camera acts as a totally impartial observer, moving amongst the set and often being placed so as to appear to hinder a clear view of the action. However, the complicated and intricate relationship between the position of the camera and that of the character it follows is a vital stylistic element. We are distanced from the action, and yet also have an intimate relationship with it; the fact that the camera often has to retrace its steps in order to follow the character presents a spontaneous, realistic image.
More importantly perhaps is the continuity that this camera technique gives the film. The film charts the flow of a series of events that are all caused ultimately by one single event. Visually, the flow of images is indicative of the inevitability of the series of events, and aurally the fact that much of the music that we hear in the film is in fact from within the action, such as the dance and the theater, suggest again continuity and unity, as well as immediacy.
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