Monday, May 5, 2008

Ne touchez pas la hache

Ne touchez pas la hache (Canadian Title:The Duchess of Langeais)
Director: Jacques Rivette, 2007

I went to go see this film because of the director. If you wikipedia French New Wave, the prominent group of french critics turned to director from the 60s who asserted that the true star of the film is the director (auteur theory), you will see Rivette up on the list with some of my other favorite directors Godard, Truffaut and Rohmer (This blogs name has its root in a series of film Rohmer directed, les contes moraux). This was the first film i saw made by Rivette, so i can not compare it with any other of his works and i am not to familiar with Balzac the early 19th century french writer known for founding realism in European literature.

The film is about the relationship between Antoinette de Langeais (Jeanne Balibar) and Armand de Montriveau (Guillaume Depardieu) in the 1820s in Paris. Antoinette is married to a man who is of a high social status but is never home. Armand just returned from fighting for France where he was tortured and endured alot to be able to get back. The two of them get back and there is a connection between the two and they start to see each other regularly for him to tell her about his experiences and to go to the ball. Because of her social status he can never be really hers. She is married and in a world where etiquette and appearances are everything all they have are their opportunities to talk with each other­. He pursues her, she then pursues him and then he pursues her. I havent studied Balzac nor am i going to pretand to have, so i will leave that as the review.

The film is brought into the 1820s by mentioning Bonaparte who was the ruler of France at the time, all the lighting in the film comes from natural sources (i.e. candles and sunlight), the costumes and sets were lavish, extravangant typical of the French upper class of the time, carriages, the social rules and norms placed on by society, and the presence of the church.

The film was beautifully shot, i was blown away by how the film seemed perfectly natural and realistic. The film was shot with only natural lighting so most scenes were in low-key lighting using candles as the sources and the sound only came from synchronous sources where at the dance balls that were going on there was an actual band performing classical pieces. The use of realistic sound made everything more believable. The scene at the Castle by the sea you would have a fly buzzing around and seagulls making noise. Everything made you feel like you were really there.

The ending was reminded me of the end of Contempt (Godard 1963) where the camera pans over the ocean and sky.

4 out 4 stars.

I just found out their playing Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and A Clockwork Orange (1971) at the mayfair monday May 5th-6th and Alain Resnais Coeurs (2006) on 7th and 8th.

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