The Lady and the Duke

If anything is worth dragging me out of my blogging stupor, it is the movie that I had the pleasure to watch last night. It's called L'Anglaise et Le Duc and it was directed by avant-garde metteur en scene Eric Rohmer. Now, I will admit to some bias because as a francophile the revolutionary era is probably my favorite epoque, for its cultural, social and historical fecundity. Don't get me started.

I will say, however, that as a very visual person I was bowled over by the astounding beauty of this film. You think I'm exaggerating?

The sets were constructed mostly with sumptuous fin-de-siecle interiors and - get this - painted backdrops of Paris which, in their luminous delicacy, resemble the art of that period, though on a far grander scale. Is it a play, or is it a film? Does the lessening of illusionism really matter, in the face of all this loveliness?

Looks like a painting, right? Perhaps a particularly dramatic contemporary Davidian canvas? Mais non - those are real people, and the sight of them moving across the gorgeous though clearly flat backdrops is so interesting.

I haven't even said anything about the costumes! Years ago, I thought I'd be a costume historian. Art history has dragged me away in its loving embrace but I have never stopped loving fashion, historical or contemporary. Anyways, the attention to detail and historical accuracy in the clothes, as well as the pure gorgeousness of Grace's clothes (and the elegance and beauty of her person) has to be seen to be believed.

And oh, the interiors, don't think I've forgotten them...but I will say no more. I can't find any decent photos, unfortunately. I need to go and find the nearest fainting couch before I expire with jealousy of the elegance and delicacy of the protagonist's private chambers.

I would point out that this film is no Marie-Antoinette - while the plot might seem long and boring to some anti-talkies, it is rich in depth and dialogue. I'm not going to relate the plot, as this post is more concerned with the aesthetics. And anyways, if I started going on about the fascinating Grace Elliot it would take up a whole other blog post. But I would definitely advise you to rent this movie, toute de suite, if my entreaty has perked your interest.



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