The Earrings of Madame de… – 1953

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One of the most coldly detached films I’ve ever seen. The camera passively tracks the movement of a pair of earrings around the high society of 19th century Paris. Danielle Darrieux and Charles Boyer play the central couple, in the throes of a estranged marriage these two are happy to sleep in separate rooms, communicating only in short, almost terse, pragmatic exchanges.

Meanwhile however both are conducting affairs under the others’ noses. These relationships are only mildly less cold and heartless than their own marriage, this is where the film could be seen to fall down, the characters are not originally sympathetic and they do not at any point redeem themselves, as such the audience has no investment in the characters, you merely watch impassively as they in turn are impassive about their lives.

Stylistically the film is a masterclass in subtlety and suggestion, scenes are shot through swirling dancers, forever floating on the surface of life, never personal or intrusive, like the people it observes, the lens is only an essence; an insubstantial part of a world that is itself insubstantial.

The plot twists and turns through such bizarre loops that the film becomes less about the characters on the screen and more about the play of fate and coincidence. Was this destined or simply a frivolity in the greater scheme of the cosmos? Are the characters punished for their immorality by a greater justice or are they the helpless puppets of their own desires?

A truly fascinating film, if not traditionally enjoyable.

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One thought on “The Earrings of Madame de… – 1953

  1. Pingback: Betrayal | We Can't Hear the Mime!

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