Is there another film with more beautiful babes than this film?
…don’t think so
My favorite was Jocelyne Boisseau:
When I could concentrate on the film, I was struck by the linearity and the lack of its effect.
Jean Baudrillard from The Illusion of the End (1992):This model of linearity must have seemed entirely fictitious, wholly absurd and abstract to cultures which had no sense of a deferred day of reckoning, a successive concatenation of events and a final goal.
That sort of sums up Fabrice Luchini’s character Perceval. He just has no idea and we go along for the ride:
The film chronicles Perceval’s knighthood, maturation and eventual peerage amongst the Knights of the Round Table, and also contains brief episodes from the story of Gawain and the crucifixion of Christ.
The film’s deliberate artificiality, ironic vision of youthful valor, and frequently shifting narrative modes prevent emotional attachment to the story while leaving space for a more cerebral engagement with the elements of storytelling Rohmer has interpreted from 12th century literature.
A brilliant and effective work.
Why the sudden recrudescence of borderline chauvanism today? I had thought that offensive activity to have quiesced.
…do you get that from drinking milk?
Actually, I thought I would deploy a MARK D VANSELOW promotional technique to get some interest in this film. Otherwise you kids aint gonna watch it, which is too bad because it is a singular experience.
I came, I saw, I didn’t think it was spectacular.
Veni, vidi, ne amatus.
Wow – you’ve seen it?
I thought i was the only other one who had seen it.
Me, Dennis, Greg X, Kenji…. apparently.
You just gave it 4 stars and you didn’t like it?
I said I didn’t think it was spectacular, that doesn’t mean that I thought it was unwatchable. For me, 4= good, 3=fair, 2=practically unwatchable.
So, I thought it was better than ‘fair’ and yet worse than ‘great.’
Yeah well, that was post-post edit.
I thought the effect was stunning and Luchini’s Perceval was terrific.
The only Rohmer I haven’t seen. I believe it’s in Greg X’s top 10.
As with other Rohmer historical/mythical period films, and in contrast to the natural contemporary ones, it’s stylised- in fact most of all, with its striking artificial sets. A fascinating film, i’m looking forward to another viewing cos Greg holds it in such esteem. It’s a far cry from the Hollywood Arthurian nonsense and the very wild mystical Celtic aspect of Boorman’s Excalibur. This is more chivalrous and courtly. It’s based on and uses rhyming couplets from Chrétien de Troyes’ tale involving the grail, in turn drawing on Welsh and Celtic tales. Here’s a similar medieval Welsh tale, part of the “Mabinogion” collection, for anyone interested-
Peredur, Son of Efrawg
Does anyone have an opinion on whether I should read the source material before seeing this?
I don’t think it is neccesary Jazz. I hadn’t read it before I watched the film and I had no problems with that. I guess it would depend a little though on how familiar you are with some of the Arthurian legends in a general sense, I knew enough about them to know something about where the film was coming from, but I didn’t know this specific telling of them which has some unusual attributes, but they were easy to work through knowing the basics. On the otherhand, the film is very unusual in the manner in which it is told, so perhaps knowning the story ahead of time might make you more comfortable with it, although I suspect the effect it had on me came from not knowning the specifics so I’m torn about that. In general, I tend not to find reading the source material ahead of time valuable if I want to treat the film as a definitive work of art on its own. I tend towards the opposite path of reading any books after the film to see the differences without making assumptions about one form being the “real” one and the other simply a translation or pale imitation.
If you don’t know much about the legends, simply readin up on the character of Perceval on any number of websites that deal with him might provide some measure of comfort while maintaining an openess to the specific story. There may be some confusion over the ending of the movie without reading the source material or about the source material ahead of time, but, again, I preferred not having that information for my way of viewing and understanding the film.
@ Jerry JohnsonAmerican critic Jonathan Rosenbaum calls it his best work, and positioned as it is, in the center of his oeuvre, it casts an important light.
@ Jazz This article might help
@ The Illusion of the End
And yet, Perceval le Galloise is absolutely a Rohmer film. One of the many startling things about the film is that it has no real ending. None of its three separate stories, those of Perceval, Gawain and Christ, are brought to conventional conclusions. The film ends in the middle, with Perceval riding through landscape, the quest ongoing and almost unnamed. It is an abrupt and initially confusing ending, but also just. Stories and incidents exist, but endings rarely exist. While death can be seen as one definitive ending, it is only the ending for the individual involved. Life is a series of interconnected and overlapping stories and this is reflected in Rohmer’s films. While they frequently have the spirit of fairy tales, they never end as fairy tales do, with a full stop. The ending is always open, always part of another beginning, always touched with ambiguity. Because Rohmer insists on filming real people, moving and talking, he cannot allow himself to indicate that their lives stop with the film. – by Tamara Tracz Issue 24 SoS
Jeez, I try to pussyfoot around the ending so as not to give anything away and then it gets thrown right out there. Oh well…
Now that it is out there, I’ll say that the ending caught me off guard in the best possible way and that it goes with the original source, or one of them, in that it also wasn’t finished.
Varda started Vagabond with the end – didn’t hurt the film. For others knowing the ending can be a good start in that this isn’t a thriller or a mystery – it is the stuff in the middle that matters.
The trick with this film is not to bring a conventional frame of reference to it.
I don’t know Robert, in a sense, it is a mystery, just not a conventional one. I think Tracz’s reading of it above is rather simplistic and fits more with the Cassavetes type film than this one in some ways, although, yes, there is the element of what Tracz says involved as well, but here there is a greater metaphysical element involved that moves it beyond that dull “In life there is no ending” routine.
I emailed Jazz and told him we were discussing the ending of the film and were having a little disagreement over whether knowing it ahead of time mattered or not so he can make his own call on whether to read what we’re saying or not, since for me, not knowing anything about the film, other than some knowledge of Perceval and the legends, before I saw it made for a profound experience, one that I’m not sure would have been the same if I had known more. Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered, but I figured that should be left up to Jazz to decide.
Yeah, I think the article is primer.beyond that dull “In life there is no ending” routine
I haven’t concluded my thoughts about the film. It seemed hyper-vivid to me – partly the developmental-ness of the narrative represented by Perceval – so the non-ending seemed natural to me. What surprised me was the Christ reference but that goes back to Baudrillard’s wholly absurd and abstract to cultures which had no sense of a deferred day of reckoning, a successive concatenation of events and a final goal.
Whether one believes in heaven or hell or Christ or God, we all have that narrative tucked away somewhere.
What would a ‘complete’ consciousness (non sociopath) be like without that?
Is that what we are shown through Perceval pre-revelation?
The non-ending made perfect sense for the film, but it still struck me with a special sort of force due to my normal experience with films I suppose. The multiple layers of distancing the film employed alienated me at first as I struggled to adapt to the methods of the film, but the end effect for me was of a more total absorbtion into the spiritual aspect of the quest as I was prevented from identifying with Perceval directly so I fell to becoming drawn in to the abstract concepts in much the same way, perhaps, as viewers of medieval art, which the film duplicates in a way, may have felt.
The staged aspect of the film was fascinating in that seeing this on a stage wouldn’t have created the same sort of feel or understanding since our relationship to the stage and our expectations would be different. It’s only by filming a stage that the necessary distance is acquired. In much the same way, Perceval’s lack of awareness or of other sympathetic virtues kept me from feeling attached to him directly in the way one would normally expect to feel with a character in a film. That identification where one feels things as the character in a way and one attached oneself to them so there isn’t much of a buffer between the two of you. Here, that identification doesn’t happen, instead I was brought in the the higher ideals at play and what those things represent. It makes the connection less about whether Perceval succeeds for himself, but more about the how I relate to this quest and what that means. Or to put it another way, instead of being drawn into a character’s world, the film stayed more literally “real” as I never lost touch with my own awareness of it being a representation while at the simultaneously continuing to be absorbed by the actions of the characters and their meaning. This created a sort of personal investment that bypassed the more usual form and made the quest more real as my experience of Perceval acheived something more akin to an analogical one than a felt one which meant that the quest itself became more important to me directly than it was via secondary identification. It’s hard to describe exactly, as if that wasn’t clear from what I just wrote, but I will say that I was shocked to find myself tearing up at the end of the film for reasons of a spiritual nature, something that I am not prone to in normal life as I am pretty much agnostic, or pantheo-agnostic anyway, so the cumulative effect of the film on me was an intense one for whatever reasons.
multiple layers of distancing the film employed alienated me at first as I struggled to adapt to the methods of the film
Yes, the over 2hr length of the film is necessary in that regard. The distancing drawing us into abstract concepts was powerful – my mind was racing after adapting to the film’s style.