Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 322: Sat Nov 17

This film shows as part of the excellent Step Into The Dark season to celebrate the opening of brand new screens at the Barbican Cinema. More details here. Prior to the screening Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod will join Gareth Evans to discuss their sinful treat. The co-directors of Cheek by Jowl present this film adaptation of three short stories from French author Guy de Maupassant to represent the sin of Lust.

This is not one of the great director Max Ophuls' best-known works but for those both familiar and unfamiliar with his ouevre it is more than worth a trip across town for. BFI head of film programming, Geoff Andrew, put this in his top ten moviesin the 2002 Sight & Sound poll and repeated viewings in the last couple of years have led me to believe this is a much-underrated movie.

Time Out review:
'Ophüls' second French film following his return from the USA was adapted from three stories by Maupassant. Le Masque describes how an old man wears a mask of youth at a dance hall to extend his youthful memories. La Maison Tellier, the longest episode, deals with a day's outing for the ladies from a brothel, and a brief romance. In Le Modéle, the model in question jumps from a window for love of an artist, who then marries her. Although Ophüls had to drop a fourth story intended to contrast pleasure and death, these three on old age, purity and marriage are shot with a supreme elegance and sympathy, and the central tale in particular luxuriates in the Normandy countryside. The whole is summed up by the concluding line, that 'happiness is no lark'.' David Thompson
If you need convincing here is a masterful essay by critic VF Perkins in Film Quarterly on this somewhat neglected masterpiece of anthology film-making.

Here is an extract.

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