Needed to see something with wigs that wasn't Barry Lyndon, cuz every day I walk the furnished corridors of an 18th century dressing room laid open in the streets and parks. Trees are in bloom and powdered yellow periwigs, red toupees, earlobe-pink petticoats, pale cyan merkins, buttercream fur hoods cover the hardwood mannequins like painted drying bells. The shrubs that remain nude and artless, craggy and stiff as
35mm, re-rating. In the court, we find the derivative meanings of what would become the "Lubitsch touch," something away here. In the streets and among the people, in the French revolution, we find Griffith, who would do much better with his "Orphans of the Storm", since he was the holder of his narrative ways. Lubitsch is not interested in the facts of the History, but rather in the stories that a film can play.
Lubitsch's rep is so tied to comedy that it's surprising to find out that his initial fame in the US was as the "Griffith of Europe", maker of lavish period pieces. But this delightful (im)morality play shows that his take on history and his take on comedy aren't far off, viewing human foibles in much the same way. As a woman whose innocent sexuality drives guilty men mad, Pola Negri beats Louise Brooks to the punch.
Un mélo(drame) costumé sur l'irrésistible ascension de la célèbre héroïne, sans cesse déchirée entre sa soif d'honneurs, de reconnaissance et la culpabilisante résurgence des sentiments qu'elle n'arrive pas à juguler... www.cinefiches.com
Great to remember how much can be covered with no words. Also a delight to witness how deftly and precisely the actors of this era were moving their bodies. They zoom across the shot and land bang in the right place. Lovely use of filters.
Packs a surprising emotional punch, partly due to the breadth of tone and the real uneasiness in the early scenes and the ambiguous power relations between Jeanne and her predators/suitors. The switch into the more epic territory of the Revolution took me by surprise - amazing visuals and crowd scenes. The final shot - stark - has really stayed with me.
Loved the first half, particularly all the bulging eyes and jutting chins and lecherous smiles (made me think of that Norma Desmond quote: "We didn't need dialogue, we had faces!"). Second half very slow, and the historical inaccuracies, though not the sort of thing that normally bothers me, were infuriating.