PERCEVAL LE GALLOIS
(director/writer: Eric Rohmer; screenwriter: from the book Perceval ou le Conte del Graal by Chrétien de Troyes; cinematographer: Nestor Almendros; editor: Cecile Decugis; music: Guy Robert; cast: Fabrice Luchini (Perceval), André Dussollier (Gawain), Marie-Christine Barrault (Guinevere), Marc Eyraud (Arthur), Pascal Ogier (chant, pucelle, dame); Runtime: 140; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Margaret Menegoz; New Yorker Films; 1978-France-in French with English titles)
“The naïve Perceval’s odyssey is depicted as a moral investigation, but is shot with a deft touch exhibiting great humor, wit and style.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Veteran French New Wave director Eric Rohmer’s (“Autumn Tale”) Perceval is a unique film faithfully based on the 12th-century Arthurian poem by Chrétien de Troyes. It combines medieval music, bright colors, mime, stylized acting and theatrical sets that reflect a wonderful feel for the period. This elegant adventure film is shot entirely in the studio. Rohmer highlights Perceval (Fabrice Luchini) as a young innocent who uses this to his advantage to gain the confidence of his enemies. The naïve Perceval’s odyssey is depicted as a moral investigation, but is shot with a deft touch exhibiting great humor, wit and style. It successfully merges a sense of the medieval with modern concerns, as it works magic with the old legend. It’s more involving than either Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac or Syberberg’s Parifal.
Perceval while a young man residing with his widowed mother is taken with the tales of chivalry attributed to the knights and selfishly aspires to become one against his mother’s wishes. She fears he will die in battle. His father was a knight, as were his two brothers who died in battle. The father died in grief over their death. Perceval’s mother keeps him innocent of such tales about the knights out of fear that he will become one.
While studying for the knighthood Perceval is educated in the ways of Chilvalry, Courtship, and Faith. The Welsh man’s wanderings take him to King Arthur, castles, jousts, beautiful damsels and the Holy Grail. He has relationships with several of the damsels, one of whom he forces himself upon–though still overwhelmed with the thought of doing only good. Apparently mom gave him this rough treatment advice with virgins so that he wouldn’t be deemed chivalrous and therefore would be rejected as a knight.
REVIEWED ON 3/7/2004 GRADE: A-