An all-knowing interlocutor guides us through a series of affairs in Vienna, 1900. A soldier meets an eager young lady of the evening. Later he has an affair with a young lady, who becomes a maid and does similarly with the young man of the house. The young man seduces a married woman. On and on, spinning on the gay carousel of life.
Ed Sutton <[email protected]>
User Reviews: La Ronde is one of my favourite French films, I can’t watch it too often as it has its faults but it hasn’t failed to enchant me each time so far. Max Ophuls certainly had an elegant style about him, see Le Plaisir and Madame de .. for further evidence. He re-created Vienna 1903 seemingly effortlessly in this, and even with Anton Walbrook continually talking to the camera and a film set deliberately momentarily on display it’s pretty convincing. The attention to period detail was knockout, done as only Ophuls knew how. It can still be done nowadays but lacking one vital ingredient: an atmosphere, a feel for the time and place that came with nitrate film stock. Modern films can look as sumptuous in their set and costume design even in todays colour, but nearly all fail to generate an atmosphere because modern film stock plays too realistic – and it ain’t going to get any better with digital no-film-at-all!
The Austrian Anton Walbrook was a multi-linguist, his sinister sibilant English in Gaslight was perfect, in Colonel Blimp perfectly resigned as a defeated and baffled non-Nazi German soldier. He spoke a few gorgeous words in French in La Ronde and was then promptly dubbed for the rest of the movie. Maybe he couldn’t sing, but why did they jettison such a lovely speaking voice as well?
The conventional hypocrisy of sexually cheating on your (straight?!) partner in secret is repeatedly portrayed, as well as the notion that casual sexual gratification is usually desired by both sexes of both classes and as fast as possible. These lovers of sex move on: familiarity breeds contempt – once you’ve come it’s time to go! This sex (not love) merry-go-round is one reason why there are 6 billion people on Earth today! But I definitely don’t agree with the previous comment that Ophuls’ version of La Ronde was about the spread of STD even though the original play had it as a major theme. Ophuls was all about Pleasure, not Pain – any syphilitic transmission was left to the imagination here. Walbrook waxes wistfully cynical throughout this beautiful film – he wouldn’t change a thing about Life and Sex if he could. I’m happily forced to watch this film with amused sadness from his point of view, and wouldn’t change a thing about it even if I could.