Friday, April 21, 2017

La Ronde (1950 film)

Based on the play by Arthur Schnitzler, La Ronde is a collection of stories involving infidelity where one person meets this person and that person meets another person. Directed by Max Ophuls and screenplay by Ophuls and Jacques Natanson, the film is an exploration into what makes people fall in love and commit adultery in the most whimsical of ways. Starring Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret, Serge Reggiani, Simone Simon, Daniel Gelin, Danielle Darrieux, Fernand Gravey, Odette Joyeux, Jean-Louis Barrault, Isa Miranda, and Gerard Philipe. La Ronde is a witty and delightful film from Max Ophuls.

Set in 1900 Vienna, the film follows a series of infidelities where a man meets a woman and that woman meets another man who would be with this woman who would be with this man and so on. It’s a film with a simple premise as it’s largely told by a narrator (Anton Walbrook) from the modern world who would tell these stories involving people falling in love. Among them is a soldier who meets a prostitute as he would later fall for this chambermaid who falls for the son of the people she’s working for as he would have an affair with a married woman. That is the narrative in a nutshell as it is largely told by this narrator who would often break down the fourth wall or appear in a story as a supporting character. It’s a very unique approach to the narrative as it covers one affair after the other as the characters that are in this merry-go-round of love affairs prove to be very interesting and why people would fall in love with this person or that person.

Max Ophuls’ direction is definitely intoxicating to watch from the way he recreates 1900 Vienna as well as not be afraid to break the fourth wall. Shot largely in a soundstage as Vienna, Ophuls would use the setting to create some intricate camerawork with the tracking shots and some crane shots where it would often last for minutes rather than shoot something for less than a minute. Ophuls’ usage of close-ups and medium shots would maintain an intimacy for much of the film while he would also use some slanted camera angles for stylish reasons to play into a character that is in a transition from one lover to another. There are some wide shots in the film as it’s more about the romances and relationships while the narrator would often be seen driving a merry-go-round or do something that relates to the story where he would hold a reel of film and cut it out and back to a certain part of the story. Overall, Ophuls creates a whimsical yet splendid about people falling in love with this person and that person.

Cinematographer Christian Matras does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography with its usage of shades and shadows for some of the interiors along with some unique lighting for some of the exterior scenes set at night. Editor Leonide Azar does excellent work by creating some unique cutting styles including a few transitional wipes and some rhythmic cuts to play into some of the comedy and conversations. Production designer Jean d’Eaubonne does fantastic work with the set design from the different homes of some of the characters to the design of the merry-go-round. The costumes of Georges Annenkov are wonderful for its stylish look in the dresses the women wear as well as the suits that the men wear. The sound work of Pierre-Louis Calvet is superb for the natural elements of the sound as it doesn’t try to go for anything artificial. The film’s music by Oscar Strauss is amazing as it is this very lively orchestral score that play into the humor and romance with some songs sung by the narrator.

The film’s incredible ensemble cast feature performance that are just fun to watch starting with Anton Walbrook as the film’s narrator/game master who leads the audience to the story and break the fourth wall at times while taking on small supporting roles as an outsider as he’s a joy to watch. From the side of the men, we have Gerard Philipe in a superb performance as a young count who is in love with the actress while he would lament over his own love affairs. Jean-Louis Barrault is terrific as a poet who is in love with a young grisette named Anna as well as the actress while Daniel Gelin is excellent as a young man who would have an affair with a maid and a married woman. In the role of the young soldier, Serge Reggiani is fantastic as the soldier who would start things off in his tryst with a prostitute and later the maid. Fernand Gravey is excellent as the husband of the cheating wife who is having a relationship with a young grisette as he laments over his marriage.

From the women, we have Isa Miranda in a wonderful performance as a stage actress who is having an affair with a poet and a young count while Odette Joyeux is brilliant as a young grisette who spends her time with this married man but is in love with this poet. Danielle Darrieux is amazing as this married woman who is in love with this young man that she’s having an affair with yet still has love for her husband despite their passionless marriage. Simone Simon is radiant as a young maid who is dating this young soldier yet manages to fall for this man whose parents she works for while Simone Signoret is great as a prostitute who starts the entire story with her brief liaison with a soldier as she would start a chain of affairs for everyone involved.

La Ronde is a phenomenal film from Max Ophuls. Featuring a great ensemble cast, a witty story about infidelity, and an unconventional approach to its narrative. It’s a film that manages to be something fun as well as provide some unique ideas about infidelity in a humorous way. In the end, La Ronde is a spectacular film from Max Ophuls.

Max Ophuls Films: (The Bartered Bride) - (The Merry Heirs) - (Liebelei) - (A Love Story (1933 film)) - (Everybody’s Woman) - (The Tender Enemy) - (The Trouble with Money) - (Yoshiwara) - (The Novel of Werther) - (Sarajevo (1940 film)) - (The Exile) - (Letter from an Unknown Woman) - (Caught (1949 film)) - (The Reckless Moment) - Le Plaisir - The Earrings of Madame de... - Lola Montes - (The Lovers of Montparnasse)

© thevoid99 2017


Anonymous said...

Whimsical adultery - don't ever stop.

thevoid99 said..., that would be a long time.