Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: The Marquise of O

In Arthur Penn's seminal private eye film, Night Moves, Gene Hackman says that watching an Eric Rohmer film is like watching paint dry on the wall. Hackman is not a nice man in the film, so everything he says should be approached with caution.

Especially when Rohmer makes films as beautiful and stunning as his (only?) historical film, The Marquise of O (1976; the same year as Penn's film!). It's based on a story by Heinrich "Mikael Kohlhaas" von Kleist and it's about a widow who gets mysteriously pregnant after being saved from some village savages by a Russian count (played by Bruno Ganz). The sets are very well done, the compositions are beautiful (I believe Rohmer has stolen some images from the famous paintings of the era; see the image on the left), the dialogue is very funny in its pompousness and German strictness, and the story is moving. What more can you possibly want? The film is absolutely hypnotic, even without music (yes, this is an European art film without any music). My only gripe with the film is that the ending, the last line of the film seems a bit too ironical.

More Overlooked Films here.

PS. And oh, I could also mention The Jack Bull, a rather recent TV western I watched some weeks ago, because it's based on "Mikael Kohlhaas", von Kleist's best-known story. The transition of the 16th century Europe to the late 19th century Wild West is made quite well, but I didn't buy John Cusack as a Western character, for some reason or another. Recommended otherwise.


Todd Mason said...

I've only been aware of von Kleist as von Kleist...but I haven't read his work yet. O is another I've been meaning to see...THE JACK BULL is new to me.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I adore Rohmer. My favorite is PAULINE AT THE BEACH. Her petulance is enchanting, frustrating, real.

Juri said...

Oh, and I thought everyone has seen THE JACK BULL and hence didn't think it was worth a post. But it was a good film, I think, with good production values and a good script and some good actors. Brian Dennehy is his usual good. (Is he usually good? I like the man.)