Wednesday, January 30, 2013

La Ronde


Four years before his infamous science fiction fantasy Barbarella, Roger Vadim's La Ronde (1964) remakes a banned play originally penned in 1897 and a classic 1950 movie adaptation of the same play. This version showcases Jane Fonda as a mischievous mother-wife (superb and well in command of her screen time, speaking in French and luminiscent), Anna Karina as a domestic-waif, Marie Dubois as "the Girl" (a prostitute), Catherine Spaak as a shop clerk (midinette) and Francine Bergé as a self-made actress, Maximilienne de Poussy. Meanwhile, the male characters are humorous hypocrites all, split between a ludicrous bourgeois façade and the underlying opposite realities of their actions.

There are revelations about class structure, history and gender presented through the scrim of a study of social manners and sex. The setting is 100 years ago, just before the the Great War of 1914-1918, in Paris. Despite cheesy moments (including goofily portrayed flashbacks), I liked it. The seduction scenes are excellent, as are the reflective post-coital musings of the main characters. 

The opening sequence -- created by Maurice Binder, the dude who also delivered the wildly choreographed openings of many a James Bond film -- made me dizzy, as befits the movie title, La Ronde -- a round dance, daisy chain, handoff or relay akin to a Surrealist "Exquisite Corpse" (where one bit ends another begins, without specifically relying on the earlier scenes for narrative coherence).

The structure involves a key pair in each scene, going from characters as follows:

and so on, back to A.

From this of 1964, I'll go back to the 1950 version and compare notes. This one ends as World War I begins, soon to be blasting away at the status quo. 

Today's Rune: Journey.

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