French Film Art

French film director, Patrice Chereau, has released a new film called Gabrielle starring Isabelle Huppert which will be featured in October at Montreal's Festival du Nouveau Cinema. (Thanks to a blog called Solid Waste for this information. It also played the Toronto International Film Festival, but I missed it.) When I lived in Paris in 1978-1979, I believe he was director of the French National Theatre at the Palais de Chaillot, although I can't seem to confirm that from online bios.

However, this post is about another of his films from ten years ago -- Queen Margot -- starring the young Isabelle Adjani and Daniel Auteuil and seen recently on DVD. This is the 16th century as I imagine it was . . . violent and vulgar . . . a world of browns and blacks where the appearance of red usually meant blood had been shed. All the Catholic French nobility were housed in claustrophic discomfort in the Louvre, with the young Protestant nobles lounging in the filthy streets waiting seemly to be massacred (as they were on St. Bartholomew's Day). The atmosphere is in muddy contrast to so many other 16th and 17th century period films in which the foppery and finery of the court make an issue of GQ seem dull. Queen Margot is beautiful in the visciousness of most of its characters, the malevolence of Catherine de Medici clad constantly in black and the innocence of Henri de Navarre who is saved by Queen Margot and becomes Henri de Bourbon, one of the most loved of French kings.

Give me more of Chereau's direction!

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