A drama adaptation of a poem dating from the 12th Century from Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval le Gallois is a unique film that chronicles Perceval’s knighthood, maturation and eventual peerage amongst the Knights of the Round Table.
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Rather unbelievably, Rohmer achieves a manner of seamlessly negotiating between 12th century lyrical storytelling & 20th century modernity without resorting to blatant irony or satire. By way of flattened space & minimal decor, deceptively simple communal staging, & musical accompaniment, Rohmer evokes &, in the end, transcends Méliès. PERCEVAL ultimately leads us to religious allegory with shades of modern despair.
even for rohmer, this one is a really odd one. the set design and the painted background are gorgeous to look at, and rohmer really re-creates the context and feel of the source with his dialogue and blocking. it appears to recall bresson with the bare form, and the almost boredom with battle scenes. focus on the importantance of what is said, and most importantly not said is key to the understanding of this work.
Respeto la opiniòn de todos aquells quienes gustan de este film y del cine de Rohmer en general, pero, en honor a la verdad, la unica vez que mire esta cosa, por màs entusiasmo que le puse al asunto, la dichosa peliculita se me hizò de hueva, total, de un ritmo verdaderamente paquidermico (y eso sin mencionar los feos decorados y el amaneramiento dce las actuaciones: el tal Fabrice Luchini esta para matarlo).
A sublime and transformative (and, often, very humorous) experience, of which its forcing this viewer to radically reconsider every time he's used "storybook" or "pageantry" in describing any other film (what did I mean by those terms? they now, in the afterglow of a first viewing, seem truly precise only in regard to this work) is only the most immediately evident effect.
Along with Bresson's Lancelot of the Lake, this is the best Arthurian film. It's a pitch-perfect close adaptation of Chretien''s "Perceval," the work that introduced the Holy Grail into the written realm of myth. Rohmer's stylized film is also a true work of the middle ages--as close as film will ever get to approaching that bygone spirit.
Authentically ancient and yet preciously post-modern, ludicrously stagey and yet strangely cinematic, irreverent and ironic but adoring of the text it adapts. Rohmer contradicts and though the chemistry wasn't quite there forme I respect the audacity of the experiment.
Perceval partakes in its own share of myth making, though does so from the position of stoned reverie. The flight of fancy is childlike and wonderful, even ending with a crucifixion enactment played to put the fear of God in wandering boys' hearts. It follows its fantasy logic to a fault, though as an embodiment of the language of myth it's suitably beguiling.
One might think the set design is too weird or just plainly ridiculous, but I think it's highly effective. One might think the whole poetry stuff is just stupid, but I think it's marvellous. One might think this is a boring, slow, badly-made movie, but I think it's a real masterpiece. Rohmer tells the stores exactly as it needs to be told, and the result is a very sober and even somewhat noble work of art. I love it.