Thursday, November 20, 2008

Her name was Lola! Lola Montès!

The Castro Theatre is currently hosting the restored LOLA MONTES (dir. Max Ophuls, France, 1955, 110 mins.) in all it's super-wide-screen (fka Cinerama!) and technicolor glory! It is a VISUAL feast, though a bit of a famine in emotional catharsis. Director Max Ophuls has filled the frame with color, music and allegory in presenting the life of the 19th century femme fatale of several culturally significant figures, like Ludwig I, King of Bavaria and Franz Liszt, as she is forced to play out her life in a circus, with Peter Ustinov at the helm as the Ringmaster! Sounds sort of like a nightmare! Martine Carol plays Lola with enough detachment and laissez faire that I was never personally caught up in her rise and fall, however well defined Carol is at placing her character in the specific period of her life.

The dramatic conceit of having her observe her life as it is played out is not capitulated with a personal catharsis, but is observed with resignation, which may be more French than I am able to assimilate. I prefer my circuses to be like Fellini! Screaming, yelling, TEARS!!

With that said, the film has an exceptionally dedicated audience, if nearly a cult. The film has been reviewed frame by frame in some publications. Perhaps it is the period in which it was produced, that was before Fellini's zenith and nearly two decades before the lavishments of Ken Russell, that it's visual audacity is revered as groundbreaking and stunning. I just wanted more "oomph!" behind my visual bang. It is not unlike an emotionally cold Powell and Pressburger production, whose films were also subjects of much cult-like affection. For the colors and restoration alone, it could be well worth a visit. But it is not spectacle in the vein of David Lean, which The Castro just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago.

Maxxxxx says
re LOLA MONTES: "Such a pretty bird!"

No comments: