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MADAME DE... (Max Ophuls, 1953)

Join us for MADAME DE..., the penultimate film by one of cinema's master filmmakers, Max Ophuls.

"For many, this piercingly poignant fin-de-siècle romance, with its dark but exquisitely delicate sense of irony, is the very finest of what David Thomson has called Max Ophüls’ ‘amusing tragedies’.

When, beset by debt, the titular Countess Louise (Danielle Darrieux) decides to sell a pair of earrings that were a wedding gift from her husband André (Charles Boyer), she unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that will have serious consequences not only for the Parisian couple but for André’s mistress and for an Italian Baron (Vittorio De Sica) who purchases the, by then, much-travelled jewelry. This being an Ophüls film, the camera is likewise in constant motion, at once following the characters as a discreet but sympathetic observer and revealing how they are all constrained, even trapped by social convention, money and their own various deceits and desires.

The lightly nuanced performances, the marvellously detailed sets and the elegant artifice of the plotting never distract from the fundamental seriousness of Ophüls’ searing study of fateful passion. A film of unassuming but enduring greatness; newly restored."

Geoff Andrew

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    Good use of camera with many inside claustrophobic shots showing the important artifacts of aristocratic marriage in her clothing in the wardrobe, jewelry box, both confined and serving as metaphor for her entrapment within its rigid structures. The opening shots depict this. Some debate as to whether this can be seen as a feminist film. I think the reverse, that it accentuated the inability of the woman to step outside the boundaries of convention. I also think Orphuls was teasing the audience with the many transfers of the jewels leading us through a meandering route to the only possible resolution in one of the men being killed in a dual. An interesting film but I failed to engage with the central characters which left me unmoved at the outcome.

    February 25, 2013

  • Brad

    Jeremy - Sorry you missed us. We met outside NFT1 following the screening, then went to the Royal Festival Hall.

    February 24, 2013

  • Jeremy

    Not sure where you guys went after the film but it wasnt in the bfi! Hope you enjoyed.

    February 24, 2013

  • Cathy

    I will be there and I have even bought my ticket!

    1 · February 18, 2013

7 went

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