Monday, 21 September 2009

Blue Beard's eighth wife by Ernst Lubitsch

Cinema is magic, it gives immortality to disappeared figures, conserves them in their youth, beauty, sexual attraction and humanity. Of course it’s is not because a film is old that it is good (old is relative compared to other arts, cinema is a very young!) Blue beard’s Eighth wife is a master piece, one of those films that can’t get old.

This story starts on the French Riviera where an American millionaire makes a scandal in a store because he only wants to buy the top of his pyjamas. A young woman saves the day by buying the trousers. The chemistry is immediate between Michael Brandon (Gary Cooper) and Nicole de Loiselle (Claudette Colbert) but why did she buy the bottom? It is certainly not for her because Cooper is tall and she’s petite… Thinking that she already has a lover he snubs her.

Cooper is insomniac and whimsical, he tries everything and it’s by changing suite in his hotel that he meets an old man squatting the bed of his next apartment. The old fellow wears the bottom Nicole bought! So she didn’t have a lover, it was for her father: right away Brandon decides that he will marry her. She’s very annoyed by the American arrogance of Brandon, so she makes him seduce her, and finally she fall in love. But when she learns that she will be his eighth wife, and feel treated that something that can be bought , she pushes the amount of money she would get in case of a divorce. She leaves for the honey moon decided to make him pay.
The marriage becomes a nightmare because Nicole rejects Michael’s love…He tries to seduce her by many means, and also find inspiration in Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew, but he didn’t get that he was the one being tamed…

This film is a Lubitsch, so the magic of its chemistry resides in the directing, which is fluid, and classy in a way that has been forgotten a long time ago (alas) by filmmakers! That is the Lubitsch touch and it can be defined by a capacity to transcend heaviness and make rudeness light.
This fiction is deeply moving and funny, first because it’s a love story and then a love education. It makes the constatation, sad and fascinating that love can’t happen without a slice of suffering, or experimentation of longing, easy love doesn’t last. Cooper is infinitely touching as a broken man, and Colbert who tortures him suffers from what she has to inflict. All in all it’s a masochistic and sensual comedy for love’s future well being. Cooper is wonderful the way he shows his vulnerability is very modern. This comedy is even funnier when you think that it is constantly threatening to turn into drama.

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