Tuesday, April 20, 2010

#443: La Ronde

(Max Ophuls, 1950)

La Ronde is deceptively airy, a study in human connections that never lets the audience pause to consider its lighthearted touch.  Ophuls made my favorite film I've watched during this project, The Earrings of Madame de..., and La Ronde is similarly opulent and fluid. But instead of earrings, it's sex that connects these characters in a merry-go-round of love and lust all put together by an omniscient host, the man on the cover of the Criterion disc.

The opening scene is truly memorable, as the narrator moves from a stage to a movie set to the early 1900s all in one take, donning old clothing as he goes. It must be the thing Baz Luhrmann has based his whole career on, a wild self-reflective trip through entertainment and audience alike. Each transition in the film is equally enjoyable, as woman turns to man turns to woman before the whole thing circles back on itself.

Depending on how flashy you like your directors, Ophuls will be a revelation or a painful distraction. It's amazing to me that he and Ozu were making movies at the same time, and were they to see each others' films I would imagine their heads would have exploded. But for me, Ophuls is exhilarating. His camera work melds so perfectly with his subjects that you can't help but get swept up in the energy of his storytelling. He is truly one of the masters, and if La Ronde doesn't quite reach the heights of The Earrings of Madame de..., it's still a must-see.

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