Monday, October 6, 2008

L'Affaire du Collier de la Reine

In this 1946 movie by French director Marcel L'Herbier you can see one of the more credible representations of an "on screen" cappa magna. Maurice Escande plays the Cardinal de Rohan, one of the major characters in the scandal that damaged the French Monarchy and especially the reputation of Marie Antoinette four years before the outbreak of the revolution. Marion Dorian plays Marie-Antoinette and Jean Hébey is Louis XVI.

This movie is more of a documentation and almost has the feel of a stage play about it. Still it is far better than Charles Shyer's "Affair of the Necklace", a 2001 pile of steaming dung, which - I admit - is a half-decent piece of eye-candy but still defiles not only the historical persons of Marie Antoinette and Louis Cardinal de Rohan but also the actors playing them, Hilary Swank and Johnathan Pierce, who both helplessly stumble through a script that is about as much fun as a toothache on your wedding day. I'd love to see this episode of French history done well in a monumental kind of way with one million actors and extras, a 200 million budget, a faithful reenactment of the court at Versailles and actors who at least approximately resemble their historical counterparts. I am sick of Marie Antoinette looking like a tramp, Louis XVI looking like a supermodel or an idiot and the Cardinal de Rohan looking like a bookkeeper in scarlet silk.

1 comment:

Catherine Delors said...

Thanks, Leo, for the reference to this film, which I haven't seen. L'Herbier was a competent director, though I think the YouTube excerpt lacks drama compared to what the real uproar of the Cardinal's arrest must have caused, on the threshold of the Royal Chapel, after he had just celebrated the Mass of the Assumption.

And I agree with you on the quality of the 2001 attempt. Dreadful indeed.