Lola Montès Screen 5 articles

Lola Montès

1955

Lola Montès Poster
  • The overriding subtext of Lola Montès emerges more strongly in our own time, besotted as we are with celebrities, now more accessible than ever through all the technological advances in personality magnification and projection. As the ever menacing Sarah Palin proves once again that mere mediocrity is no obstacle to gaining a frightening degree of power, the Ophüls vision is timelier than ever.

  • The film is a colossal spectacle about colossal spectacles, and the extravagant palette, the cavernous sets, and the wide-screen images in which Ophüls entombs Lola (and Carol) contrast cruelly with the real-life pathos of the femmes fatales, which the director’s own magnificent artistry both exploits and exalts.

  • The tableaux flamboyantly fill the space of the circus, reaching to its very top with Lola’s rise to power and fame, while a death-defying plunge down into a small net, precariously placed just above the floor of the ring, represents her fall. The tableaux trigger flashbacks into Lola’s memory... These scenes are constantly de-naturalised, however, by Ophüls’ extraordinary mise en scène: real-life landscapes are coloured and manipulated almost like film sets.

  • Seen on 35mm, with Marcel Ophuls present. This may be Max Ophuls at his most abstract, which ist still endlessly inviting: it begins on startling surreal harshness, moves through melancholy and joy, and ends on a note sadder than if it took the more melodramatic way out. Along the way, it writes (in calligraphy) an eloquent version of female notoriety that everyone from Ingrid Bergman to Miley Cyrus should relate to.

  • In Ophüls’s final effort, the once notoriously divisive but now universally beloved Lola Montès (1955), the swirling delirium of his camera reaches a fever pitch. . . . Ophüls’s only color and widescreen effort, Lola is an impossibly lush, swooning masterwork. The heroine’s dalliances are all colored by bitterness and failure, but they also evoke the immediate passion of their given moments; over and over, we watch love bloom even as we already know that it’s doomed.

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