...to say that CASQUE D'OR is like an impressionist painting might be to suggest that it merely resembles a style of art which originated in 19th-century France while remaining at its core a film with only suggestions as to another medium's influence, rather than a painting itself come to life and on its own borrowed journey. The latter, however, is true of CASQUE D'OR, a painting-as-film that takes the visible brushstrokes of the Belle Epoque off the canvas and onto the big screen.
Becker makes sense of a nonsensical world in Casque d’or. People dance in the middle of the day. They fight duels with elegantly jewelled knives. They jut their hips, stick out their chins and dare each other to commit acts others only dream of. Becker’s riveting attention to the smallest gesture focuses our attention on this world that seems to make sense only in the country, in Joinville, where the daily distractions of Parisian life are forbidden except in memory.
I was staggered by the serene assurance with which Becker managed to create a tragic climate that he usually distilled with more restraint. Here the tragedy hits you frontally. What's striking is his formal and visual command, the narrative elegance, and the way this mastery never interferes with the emotion, never makes the work impersonal. It's a film in which you constantly feel the characters' heartbeat. The mise-en-scène flexes emotion like you flex your muscles.