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Perceval

(Perceval le Gallois)
France/Italy/West Germany 1978. Dir: Eric Rohmer. 138 min. DCP

There’s a growing tide of opinion that views this 1978 oddity, easily the most uncharacteristic film in Rohmer’s massive, inimitable oeuvre, as the auteur’s unsung masterpiece. Shot entirely on a soundstage adorned with painterly mise-en-scène (artificial lights and theatre props eschew any semblance of Rohmerian realism), Perceval, Rohmer’s second literary adaptation after The Marquise of O (also screening), faithfully transposes Chrétien de Troyes’s 12th-century Arthurian poem to the screen, rhyming couplets and all. It chronicles the escapades of young, naïve Perceval (Fabrice Luchini), who, upon discovering that knights exist, vows to one day pull up a chair at King Arthur’s Table. Despite the film’s formal departures, Rohmer’s signature is very much in evidence: ironic wit, moral dilemmas, and familiar faces (Pascale Ogier, Marie Rivière) all factor in, as does the rapturous cinematography of master Néstor Almendros. “Undoubtedly one of the most original, daring, and meticulously devised films in all of cinema” (Andréa Picard, Cinema Scope).

 

REVIEWS

"Astonishing .... Marries medieval passion with modern perspective and sires its own special magic."

Time Out | full review

"Eric Rohmer's least typical and least popular film also happens to be his best."

Chicago Reader | full review