A very unique film- on one hand it is a period piece set in the 18th century—almost Masterpiece theater shot on crude video with Rohmer’s typical captivating male and female moral debate/discussion. On the other hand, the background in the exteriors sequences are from laser-projected paintings. They are stunningly beautiful when serving as long shots or establishing shots.
From Ebert, “old in an elegant visual style. It moves too slowly for those with impaired attention spans….has devised a daring visual style in which the actors and foreground action are seen against artificial tableaux of Paris circa 1792. These are not “painted backdrops,” but meticulously constructed perspective drawings, which are digitally combined with the action in a way that is both artificial and intriguing”
Rohmer at 82 years old
Starts the film with a montage of these drawings as we get the backstory.
The interior sequences are stifling and not great—there are 20 minute stretches (at least twice) where we’re stuck inside without the tableaus
The exteriors are breathtaking- mostly as establishing shots. When mixing actors in it gets a little ugly as the artifice shows (mixed with the actors in the foreground shot on video). Long shots look fine
Rohmer’s lead Lucy Russell is a good strong character and the debates here with the Duke are smart politics—she’s a royalist—Rohmer seems offended at how bad the manners are of the revolutionaries. Haha
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