Sunday, April 28, 2013

Merry Go Round

We enjoyed Elena and Her Men, so we figured we should try Max Ophuls' La Ronde (1950) - another giddy French film about love.

It starts with a narrator in front of a stage, on the painted backdrop of a Vienna street. He is the "raconteur", the narrator, played by Anton Walbrook, a debonair Barrymore type. He wanders through the stage set to a carousel, and explains that he will be showing us Love and how it goes around.

It starts with a streetwalker, Simone Signoret, who takes a soldier to a quiet spot by the river. We then follow the soldier as he meets a maid, Simone Simon, who is seduced by her young master, who gets the courage to make an assignation with a married woman, Danielle Darrieux. And on it goes, round and round.

The stories are all the old ones, the dialog isn't surprising, and the raconteur is always there to remind you that this is just a movie, a play, an old-time waltz. But how lovely it is - not just the sweet delirium of the affairs, but Ophuls' strolling, swirling, waltzing camera. It's movement through the lovely period sets make it almost an extension of the raconteur character, commenting on the action.

Although the stories are bittersweet - or just bitter - the overall effect is sweet. This story has been told many times (although this is the only one I've seen), and I can see why. It is very satisfying

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