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Lady and the Duke, The
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Using technology to tell history."
3 stars

Dryasdust history lesson from Eric Rohmer, circa the French Revolution, concerning an Englishwoman and her relationship with Philippe, the Duke of Orleans.

Adapted from the factual memoirs of his one-time-mistress Grace Elliott (“Journal of My Life During the French Revolution”), the film is an exercise in application; austere on most levels (almost no score, a pallid image from the utilization of digital video), the main stylistic choice has Rohmer filming all of his exterior shots against a green screen, and pasting in various paintings of period-authentic Paris. The technical choices are what remain interesting and impressive — this is, after all, another New Wave filmmaker’s first foray into the digital medium. The actual look of the film varies, insofar as the overall image stands out as subpar, but with the proficient and professional eye of a director taking a risk, introducing a viable alternative (the juxtaposition of the objects and the painting, not the use of video). However, a comparison of similar art forms would suggest that Rohmer lacks the true painterly eye as seen in Carlos Saura’s aesthetically apt Goya in Bordeaux. The lesson itself wouldn’t be so excruciating if it were not for the fact that it is all so plainly straightforward, so unabridged, so mercilessly time-consuming. At 135-minutes, this stream-of-facts lecture trembles into the trenches of monotony without the detraction of technology.

With Lucy Russell and Jean-Claude Dreyfus.

[See it if you must.]

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originally posted: 12/20/03 19:09:21
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User Comments

3/11/07 Roy F. Moore Great film that finally tells the other side of the evil French Revolution. Recommended. 5 stars
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  10-May-2002 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Eric Rohmer

Written by
  Eric Rohmer

  Lucy Russell
  Jean-Claude Dreyfuss
  Francois Marthouret
  Marie Rivičre

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