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Frédéric van den Driessche,
In an enchanted forest, back in the time of the Druids, the shepherd Céladon and the shepherdess Astrée share a pure and chaste love. Fooled by a suitor, Astrée dismisses Céladon, who throws himself into a river out of despair. She thinks he's dead, but he's been secretly rescued by some nymphs. Faithful to the promise he made to Astrée to never appear before her again, Céladon must overcome many obstacles to break the curse. Mad with love and despair, coveted by the nymphs, surrounded by rivals, and obliged to disguise himself as a woman to be near the one he loves, will he manage to make himself known without breaking his oath? A romance filled with doubt, hazards, and delicious temptations.Written by
If cinema existed in 1607, it may have looked like that. Nowaday, it's just an involuntary funny experience.
I was aware of Rohmer's admiration for the late works of the ones he considered like great cineasts, and that normal spectators generally considered as artistic failures (as Renoir's or Chaplin's very last movies ; yes, the "politique des auteurs" also has its dark side). But with "Les amours d'Astrée et de Céladon", it's as if Rohmer himself wanted, for what may be his last movie, to perpetuate this tradition of great directors, who made a last senile movie, by adapting Urfé's "L'astrée", with ridiculous aesthetic codes, witch just look like a parody of Rosselini's last movies (the ones he made for TV from Descartes or Marx's lives).
In his version of "Perceval", Rohmer refused to film real landscapes in order to give a re-transcription of what may have been a middle age classical representation of things. The director apparently changed his mind when the XVII century is involved, and films actors, dressed like 1600's peasants reciting their antic text surrounded by contemporary trees and landscapes. But the all thing looks even more ridiculous than Luchini and its fake trees. It's not that the story itself is stupid, but the way Rohmer mixes naturalism with artifices seems so childish and amateurism that it rapidly becomes involuntarily funny (and I'm not even talking about the irritating pronunciation of the actors, the annoying and sad humorist tries by Rodolphe Pauly, the ridiculous soft-erotic tone, the poor musical tentatives, or the strange fascination for trasvestisment!).
The radical aesthetic of the film ultimately makes it looks like a joke, which mixes a soft-erotic movie made for TV with theological scholastic discussions (sic !). At the beginning of the movie, Rohmer teaches us that the original french region of the story is now disfigured by modernity, and that's why he had to film "L'Astrée" in other parts of the country. However, I'm sure the movie would have look more modern and interesting, if Rohmer would have actually still filmed the same story in a modern area with same narrative codes and artistically decisions. This film may interest a few historians, but most of the cinephiles may laugh at this last and sad Rohmer's movie.
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