Wednesday, December 26, 2012

La Princesse de Montpensier (2010)

The 2010 Tavernier film La Princesse de Montpensier is a retelling of the story by Madame de Lafayette which warned young seventeenth century ladies of the perils of forsaking virtue. With marvelous actors and riveting sets and scenery, the movie had enormous potential which was lost in the director's attempt to make the original parable fit a modern agenda. It sadly became a mishmash dominated by feminist ideology, as the author of this essay clearly points out, saying:
Dissimulation leaves open the possibility for discovery; the imperative of self-control holds open the potential for an explosion of emotion, anger, or violence.  Both are absent from the movie’s universe.  With its characters endowed with static personalities, liberated from doubt and emotional turmoil, the film lacks any dynamic drawing the viewer forward. Part of the problem is that Tavernier has not gone far enough in transforming Madame de Lafayette’s story.  Too many traces of her text’s narrative architecture and moral economy still inhabit the film.  In the film, virtue hasn’t guided anyone’s actions, nor indeed is virtue even present as an operative category, making this a pointless gesture.  We are faced with a kind of archeological accretion of incompatible elements deposited from both the original text and Tavernier’s historicist-modernist vision.  A credible tale of female agency could have been told either by truly historicizing the action and taking seriously the options and constraints available to women in the sixteenth century, or by unmooring the story from its source text and historical context – but not both simultaneously. In the end, we are left with a film that is a pastiche of a period-costume historical epic, a bodice-ripping swashbuckler, a reverential adaptation of a literary classic, an auteur’s reinvention of a canonical text, a romantic tale of impossible love, a melodrama, and an exemplary feminist tale. A more interesting film could certainly have been made about unrequited love (or the absence of love) in early modern marriages.  But here, too many themes spoil the cinematic pot. (Read entire essay.)


julygirl said...

Virtue has lost its value and importance so much so that contemporary film makers do not realize how important a role it played in the actions and activities in times past.

julygirl said...

The horses used in the film were the same breed as the beautiful horse shown in this painting. Have never seen horses move and perform as beautifully outside the show ring as those used in the making of the film.