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The Marquise of O

(Die Marquise von O… / La Marquise d’O…)
West Germany/France 1976. Dir: Eric Rohmer. 102 min. DCP

Eric Rohmer’s first historical drama was this elegant, visually-exquisite adaptation of German Romantic writer Heinrich von Kleist's 1808 novella. Set in northern Italy during the Napoleonic Wars, it features Edith Clever in the title role as a virtuous widow who one day finds herself inexplicably pregnant. Bruno Ganz co-stars as the Russian count who months before had saved her from being raped by soldiers of the invading Russian army. Rohmer is said to have learned German so he could make the film in the language of Kleist. The beautiful cinematography of Néstor Almendros, a frequent Rohmer collaborator, references artworks by painters of the period such as Caspar David Friedrich, Henry Fuseli, and Jacques-Louis David. “A dazzling testament to the civilizing effects of several different arts ... Witty, joyous, and so beautiful to look at” (Vincent Canby, New York Times).


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REVIEWS

"Almost ironically uninflected, like a tense game of chess ... No costume-drama escapism here, just distilled social warfare."

Village Voice | full review

"Infinitely subtle ... The film's slow, stately pace and the quiet way in which it makes its points give it the aura of a neoclassical dream."

Chicago Reader | full review