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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lola Montès
Lolamontes.jpg
French theatrical release poster
Directed byMax Ophüls
Produced byAlbert Caraco
Screenplay by
Based onLa vie extraordinaire de Lola Montès
by Cécil Saint-Laurent
Starring
Music byGeorges Auric
CinematographyChristian Matras
Edited byMadeleine Gug
Distributed by
  • Gamma Film (France)
  • Union-Film-Verleih (West Germany)
Release date
  • 23 December 1955 (1955-12-23) (France)
  • 12 January 1956 (1956-01-12) (West Germany)
Running time
  • 114 minutes (original, lost version)
  • 110 minutes/114 minutes (restored versions)
Countries
  • France
  • West Germany
Languages
  • French
  • English
  • German

Lola Montès is a 1955 historical romance film and the last completed film of German-born director Max Ophüls. Based on the novel La vie extraordinaire de Lola Montès by Cécil Saint-Laurent, the film depicts the life of Irish dancer and courtesan Lola Montez (1821–1861), portrayed by Martine Carol, and tells the story of the most famous of her many notorious affairs, those with Franz Liszt and Ludwig I of Bavaria. A co-production between France and West Germany, the dialogue is mostly in French and German, with a few English-language sequences. The most expensive European film produced up to its time, Lola Montès underperformed at the box office. However, it had an important artistic influence on the French New Wave cinema movement and continues to have many distinguished critical admirers. Heavily re-edited (multiple times) and shortened after its initial release for commercial reasons, it has been twice restored (1968, 2008).[citation needed] It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America by The Criterion Collection in February 2010.

Plot

In the mid-19th century, Lola Montès is a famous, past-her-prime dancer and courtesan who has led an eventful and highly scandalous life. (She supposedly holds a world record for number of lovers.) She is now reduced to performing in a New Orleans circus, where an impresario/ringmaster has both befriended and exploited her by making her the central attraction. In the course of a single circus performance—which dramatically reenacts Lola's life and career—flashbacks reveal, first, her affair with composer Franz Liszt; second, her unhappy youth and marriage to her own mother's boyfriend, Lt. Thomas James; and then her scandalous public breakup with conductor Claudio Pirotto. Along the way her career as a dancer and "actress" has its ups and downs, and she initially rejects the career advances of a younger version of Ustinov's impresario. In a longer flashback, constituting most of the second half of the film, her career as courtesan reaches a peak: her affair with the Bavarian King Ludwig I, which incenses his subjects and leads to his eventual downfall in the March Revolution of 1848. In a final circus sequence, Lola—a "fallen woman"—ascends to the apex of the big top tent for a symbolic, death-defying plunge. She is last seen in a cage, allowing her hand to be touched and kissed by a very long queue of male, fee-paying circus patrons.

Cast

Production

Lola Montès was filmed in Paris, Nice, and Munich.

Release

This was the last film directed by Ophüls before his death of a heart attack in March 1957. As originally shown in France in 1955, the audience sees the events of Lola Montès' life through the use of flashbacks. Use of the technique was criticized upon its release, and the movie did poorly at the box office. In response, the producers re-cut the film and shortened it in favor of a more chronological storyline, against the director's wishes.

According to Roger Ebert, a "savagely butchered version was in circulation for a few years" following Ophüls' death.[1] The film critic Andrew Sarris and others eventually showed improved versions, closer to the original, at the New York Film Festival in 1963 and 1968.

Restoration

Certain elements remained missing and were believed lost, but the later discovery and restoration efforts by Technicolor artists of the lost footage allowed a new version to be edited according to Ophüls' original intentions. The color version of the film with missing footage was digitally restored by a small team of restoration artists including John Healy at Technicolor under the direction of Tom Burton. The black-and-white version of the film was repaired by Martina Müller and Werner Dütsch.[2] The color version including lost footage was shown at the New York Film Festival according to the director's edit version from September 26 to October 12, 2008.[3]

Lola Montès was re-released by Rialto Pictures in November 2008 with the full Cinemascope aspect ratio restored and with five minutes of additional footage never before shown in any U.S. release.

Lola Montès was released on DVD and Blu-ray in North America by The Criterion Collection in February 2010.[4]

Legacy

Roger Ebert lauded the film's camerawork and set design, but felt that Carol's "wooden [and] shallow" performance as the titular character prevented the film from achieving greatness.[1] Nonetheless, it is today among Ophüls' revered works.[5] Dave Kehr called it a masterpiece, and wrote that "certainly this story of a courtesan's life is among the most emotionally plangent, visually ravishing works the cinema has to offer."[6] The film also received five votes in the British Film Institute's 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll.[7] Lola Montès is acclaimed in Danny Peary's 1981 book Cult Movies as one of the 100 most representative examples of the cult film phenomenon.

References

  1. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (November 5, 2008). "Lola Montes movie review & film summary (2008)". rogerebert.com.
  2. ^ Martina Müller, Werner Dütsch: Lola Montez – Eine Filmgeschichte
  3. ^ "New York Film Festival review of the restored version". Film Society of Lincoln Center. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
  4. ^ "Lola Montès". The Criterion Collection.
  5. ^ "Max Ophüls's Acclaimed Films". February 7, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  6. ^ Kehr, Dave. "Lola Montes". Chicago Reader. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  7. ^ "Votes for LOLA MONTÈS (1955)". British Film Institute. Retrieved July 24, 2016.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 June 2021, at 09:33
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