The young shepherd, Céladon, is being rebuked by his fiancée, Astrée, who suspects that he is cheating on her. Through utter desperation he throws himself into a roaring torrent river sweeps him away… Eric Rohmer’s vision of doubt, hazard and love.
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The Romance of Astrea and CeladonDirected byÉric Rohmer
When it premiered I was uncertain for a few weeks if I did liked it or not. The tone of the acting is quite strange (a friend told me it was a tribute to amateur theatre). Leaving the screening, I was dazzled, confused, caught between enjoyment and bewilderment. Everything else is wonderful. There are still, after these years many, many scenes in my memory. And I definitely decided that I love it, a lot. Gorgeous!
A fine adieu from one of the great cinéastes, but also, in point of fact, a paean to not so much (as some have suggested) monogamous love as what that idea means and has meant to art, the allure of that romantic fantasy and the arguments and philosophical implications its pure idealism provokes in Honoré d'Urfé's shepherds and druids (and in those of us who respond to Rohmer's film).
So, basically this is one of my contes moral as filmed in 1620. I've had a word with this d'Urfe chap and said we have to lose the odd few thousand pages from the script. Bit of a hard sell but shepherdesses and nymphs can set a few pulses racing, particularly with a bit of well placed decolletage, and the druids could bring in the Lord of the Rings crowd. Magic groves? A cinch after green rays and golden hours.
Beautiful, weird, and weirdly, beautifully erotic. The story is annoying, though seems true to the source. The way it's told is gorgeous; the costumes are all the soft colors of designer chicken eggs, the lush greens look ready to dance in barefoot. The straightforwardness of the delivery makes the silly narrative palatable, and absolutely everyone is beautiful.
As in "Perceval" or "L'anglaise et le duc", Rohmer creates his own world with his rythm, his aesthetic, his own langage. Even after four decades of filmmaking, he wished to reshape cinema and find new directions (where others just repeat themselves over and over again). I can't stop but admire this energy and curiosity.
‘Astrea and Celadon’ is striking in its simplicity, its minimalist approach drawing the attention to the story and its characters. Rohmer creates a Classical world for his idyll; his shepherds’ hands and clothes are unblemished by their work, and their existence is presented to us as one of feasting and festivity. Whilst it's tiresome at times, it manages to hold the attention and the finale is gently heartwarming.
Extremely strange - performed more like a stage play than a film. Which is supposedly the point. However it's so charming in its pastoral bubble and everything is so fresh and blossoming (most especially the leads) that time flies like the springtime of youth. Cinematography reminded me of the pastoral stories in Borowzcyk's Immoral Tales, and Effi Briest in its execution of narrative.
The final film of Eric Rohmer, adapting a mammoth novel, is an enjoyable romantic drama, with a sprinkling of comedy throughout. It works well enough, despite a whiny and petulant lead male character (Celadon, played by Andy Gillet) and a lead female character (Astrea, played by Stephanie Crayencour) who doesn't perhaps seem as deserving of all the effort that her lover makes for her.