XL Popcorn – Lola Montès

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 813/1007Title: Lola Montès
Director: Max Ophüls
Year: 1955
Country: France

It’s been two and a half years since I was stood in the Gallery of Beauties in Munich thinking that I really should see this movie next as part of the 1001 list. That was about 150 movies ago and I’ve finally gotten around to seeing it. I don’t know if I hadn’t properly made the connection that this is by the same director of Madame de… and Letter From An Unknown Woman else I might have watched it earlier.

I think the best word to describe this whole production is opulent. At the time, this was the most expensive film made in Europe and it shows. Whilst I am sure that there are some location shoots for the more palatial set pieces, the circus arena alone must have cost a bomb. I’m sure there were ways they could have saved some money, but there’s something extra special in seeing a director go all out.

Much comment has been made about the level of acting from Martine Carol in the titular role. It’s a big and complex role to play and some have found her acting to be a bit too wooden when you would have expected something a bit more alive. For me, I actually quite liked the level of detachment that she gives the character. After all, Lola Montez is someone who needed to be somewhat hardened to the world in order to pursue the life she did.

Maybe it would have worked better with us seeing her becoming more and more removed as life went by instead of general detachment – but I didn’t enjoy the film any the less because of it. This isn’t at the same level as the other Max Ophüls films I’ve seen, but the other two I saw were so great that this was unlikely to match up anyway.

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