Irrestisible charm and talent help Serge Alexandre alias Stavisky, small-time swindler, to make friends with even the most influential members of the French industrial and political elite ...
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The intersecting stories of three people who face difficult choices in life-changing situations are used to illustrate the theories espoused by Henri Laborit about human behavior and the relationship between the self and society.
Irrestisible charm and talent help Serge Alexandre alias Stavisky, small-time swindler, to make friends with even the most influential members of the French industrial and political elite during the early '30s. But nothing lasts forever and when his great scam involving hundreds millions of francs gets exposed, the result is an unprecedented scandal that almost caused a civil war.Written by
Dragan Antulov <email@example.com>
On February 7, 1934, the French Ministry of the Interior and the Paris Police Prefecture banned the showing of newsreel footage of the previous day's mêlée by right-wing royalists, war veterans and members of the anti-semitic, nationalist, anti-republican Action Francaise movement, who rioted to bring down the Daladier government over the Stavisky affair. The riots left 17 dead and 116 wounded. One Parisian cinema, Reginald Ford's Cineac Theatre, defied the censorship to show footage of the riots by the reactionary forces, which had been caught on-camera by French and foreign newsreel photographers. See more »
The Pure Genius of Alain Resnais; Belmondo and Boyer ROCK!; Sondheim's annoying and intrusive score only drawback
To see a good print of this film in a proper movie theatre (as we were finally able to do last year at the all-too-rare Resnais retorspective at the Egyptian in Hollywood) is like ascending to friggin heaven for the true film fan. With the myriad of attention that's been paid over the years to 'gangster/conman' flicks, how many people know that the most modern and technically advanced of all 'narrative' film directors had already made in 1974 the greatest and most transcendently poetic masterpiece connected with that 'establishment flouting' genre? Not that many, and none of the Resnais screenings at the Cinemateque were even remotely the sell-outs they should've been.
Resnais makes films that stand up to and get better with countless repeat viewings but filmgoers for some reason have decided that any film that they don't fully 'get' in one friggin viewing is somehow flawed or lacking in composition! It never occurs to them to say that about a piece of music or even a silly pop song; they will listen to that over and over again--but a movie? Hell no! One pop-corn chomping two hour span is all their precious attentions can be taxed to give, and any film that doesn't seek to manipulate them is quickly dismissed as 'difficult' or 'art-school' cinema. That's too bad, because Resnais' films are only difficult for those not accustomed to deconditioning themselves from the manipulative commercial cinema around them; they are meant to be slightly imperfect on purpose, so that audiences can participate and complete the picture to a certain degree subjectively. Once you realize that these films are labyrinths of wonder and beauty that more than repay any amount of attention you put into them, watching a Resnais film becomes a thoroughly natural process, nothing 'difficult' about it. But you have to take that step out of passivity and readjust your perspective a bit (reading Kreidle's excellent book on Resnais is a great place to start readjusting your perspective).
Belmondo must be commended for putting his star power and his own money into financing this film with Resnais as his chosen director. He sure made the right choice! Much more than "Breathless" and even "Pierrot Le Fou", "Stavisky" is a timeless and absolutely exquisite film that basically hasn't aged one bit, and it serves as probably the ultimate display piece for Belmondo's superb gift and magnetic personality. It's the best 'F.Scott Fitzgerald''1920s' type looking film ever made. It blows away any other film in the beauty and shading of its shots, the lushness of muted, shadowy colors in its look, and along with Storaro's work in the "The Conformist" (which is a shallower film than it in the narrative sense), Vierny's cinematography is the most awe-inspiringly authentic and yet transcendently romantic looking 'period' look ever achieved on film. In addition to Belmondo, "Stavisky" features the great Charles Boyer in one of his greatest performances ever, forever immortalized in a work of cinematic art as truly deserving of his talents as "The Earrings of Madame de..." or "Algiers." The only complaint I have about this film is with regards to Sondheim's score. It's good when it stays in the background, but unfortunately it often becomes intrusive and in a 'cheap modern', second-hand-Stravinsky-meets-broadway way that's really annoying. Resnais would've been better off, even with a restrained Ennio Morricone score than this type of bogus music. Other than that one minor tolerable annoyance "Stavisky" is an awe-inspiring masterpiece.
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