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Criterion Collection: Le Plaisir [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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The three stories consist of, first, La Masque. We are in 19th Century Paris at the Palais de la Dance, where great, swirling balls are held. This is a place where young women hope to find pleasure and rich men; where old women chase memories and young suitors; where prostitutes and their pimps gather, where the men are young bucks and old goats, where "rough cotton to the finest cambric" can combine. One slender man in full dinner dress rushes into the palace and begins to dance with a beautiful young woman. He prances and kicks, yet his face is like a frozen mask of youth. He collapses on the dance floor and a doctor is called. When the doctor loosens the man's clothes, he finds...well, let's say that when the man is delivered home to his wife by the doctor, she tells him a story of the battle between pleasure and love.
In La Maison Tellier, we learn all about a cozy, friendly and long established brothel in a small town on the Channel coast. The bourgeois men of the town are as well-known there as they are to their wives.Read more ›
As might be expected being based on Maupassant, here the theme of 'pleasure’ is tempered (albeit Ophuls and Natanson do it with perhaps more optimism than would the source author) with accompanying 'sacrifice’, whether it be that of Gaby Morlay’s long-suffering, but loyal, wife to Jean Galland’s ageing 'Dorian Gray-like’ would-be dandy, Ambroise, in the opening tale, Le Masque, the (again) superb Danielle Darrieux’s rueful prostitute, Madame Rosa, reflecting on lost childhood innocence in the brilliant communion sequence in La Maison Tellier, or the similarly outstanding Simone Simon as the obsessed lover, Joséphine, in the concluding tale, Le Modèle.Read more ›
Director Max Ophuls transferred 3 Guy de Maupassant stories (set circa the late 1800s) to the screen while retaining an amazingly strong sense of their literary source.
The 3 stories are a wry look at love. They're not for those people "in love with love". They're for and about cynical, down-to-earth types. Despite that, the stories are vibrant and fun and I never lost interest.
This is a B&W film, directed with Ophuls mystical touch and influenced by the Impressionistic paintings of the story's milieu.
It's an ensemble piece filled with wonderful actors. Just to name a few: Danielle Darrieux -- so very lovely here -- and she gets to show off her equally lovely singing voice a little. Jean Gabin. Claude Dauphin. And a delightful surprise for me, Simone Simon, who demonstrates how much she was wasted by Hollywood.
This is a quality DVD from the Criterion Collection. The special features include an interview with one of the actors, Daniel Gélin, and an insightful behind-the-scenes presentation by French film scholar Jean-Pierre Berthome (speaking in English). I would suggest watching the "Intro" by Todd Haynes AFTER seeing the movie since he gives away too much for my taste (these stories are full of little surprises) -- but definitely watch it.
A couple years earlier, Max Ophuls made a similarly-themed ensemble piece with many of the same actors which Criterion has also made available: LA RONDE (Region 1).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Purchased on request as a Christmas present, so cannot really comment on the film itself I am afraid. Sorry.Published 8 months ago by DBWM
The film is breathtakingly beautiful, some scenes (mainly in the second episode) look like impressionist paintings-and the film is in black and white!-. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Valentina
This movie (a triptych) illustrates perfectly the universe and the themes of the great French writer Guy de Maupassant. Read morePublished on 8 July 2013 by Luc REYNAERT
Le Plaisir (Max Ophüls, 1952, 97')
Produced by Max Ophüls, M Kieffer, Édouard Harispuru
Screenplay by Jacques Natanson, Max Ophüls
Story... Read more