Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Madame de... (1953)

Many people that I know assume that old movies -black and white movies - are slow and boring. That is not what I think. True, old movies, if they used special effects, can be out-of-date; but there are movies with strong script and dialogues, and these kinds are not much affected by time. Techniques used by directors and the crews are also not much different from today. Now I especially like European movies, French & Italian to be exact, made between 1950 - 1965.

Max Ophüls's Madame de... starts with Louise, wife of a general, who sells her earrings, which her husband gave her after their wedding, because she needs money. She tells the general that she has lost them at the opera. The next day the news about the theft appears on newspaper. The jeweler who bought them reads it and tells the general the truth. The general buys the earrings back, but gives them to his mistress, who soon will have to sell them for money. Time goes on, and Louise meets Baron Donati who gives her the very earrings as a token of love. In the beginning, we see Louise chooses among her belongings, and the earrings are the ones she loves the less. However, after Donati gives them to her, we see that they have become her most precious possession, that she persuades the jeweler to hold them for her until she gets the money to buy them back by selling some of her furs.

The development of the relationship among the general, Donati and Louise is well depicted. Both Donati and Louise only flirt at first, but as they meet regularly in parties and always dance together, something starts to grow and Louise decides to go away. The general still means a lot to her. The music, sets, and costumes are wonderful.

The DVD contains an interview with director Alain Jessua, who at that time worked as one of the director's assistants in Madame de... He keeps the placard bearing the sign "Don de Madame de" which appears in the end of the movie.

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