Monday, May 11, 2009

La tulipe noire (1964)

I haven't read Alexander Dumas's novel of the same title, but I heard that story from the book is very different from this movie. Christian-Jaque, who made Fanfan la Tulipe, directed this. Like in Fanfan la Tulipe, the dialogues by Henri Jeanson are made to tickle your senses. The story is set in June 1789 in the province. According to the narrator, the French historians wrote about lesser heroes, but deliberately ignored someone important. However, thanks to cinema that finally justice is given to the great person: The Black Tulip.

The Black Tulip is a sort of Zorro, a masked hero dressed in black with his horse Voltaire, who robs the noblemen, and is adored by the 3rd Estate. He sends a black tulip to his future victim as a warning. Baron La Mouche, the lieutenant general of police, suspects that The Black Tulip is no other than Guillaume de Saint Preux. In a fight, La Mouche marks The Black Tulip's left cheek with his sword. Guillame calls his twin brother Julien, who is honest and timid, to shake off any suspicion. Julien, who adores The Black Tulip, accepts the task, but later he learns that Guillaume in fact doesn't care with the revolution. Julien becomes The Black Tulip and helps the revolution so that the hero will be adored forever.

This swashbuckling movie is very entertaining. The fight scenes are well done, with funny bits here and there. Alain Delon plays both the twins, with Virna Lisi as the beautiful girl who gets the hero. I like useless lines like: "We are in June 1789. In June. That means 14th July has not happened yet. Let alone the September massacres, of course." and funny one like: "Hosanna! I will remember my last day for a long time!" In the end, Plantin also speaks how the people will always remember 19th July 1789.

The marquis : I want the head of The Black Tulip here! On this table, before Monday.

La Mouche : You will have the head and the rest.

The marquis: I don't need the rest. The head!

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