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MADAME de The film Madame de directed by Max Ophuls is perfection This tragedy of love which begins in narcissistic flirtation and passes from romance to passion to desperation is set ironically in aristocratic circles that seem too superficial to take love tragically Everything from the writing casting direction photography and finally to editing is flawless It is an example of a film done right an example of a director with a vision and the choices he makes to execute his vision The performances by Danielle Darrieux as Madame de by Charles Boyer as her husband Monsieur de a general and by Vittorio De Sica as her lover the Baron are all superb Ophls lush decorative style and his darting swirling camera are used to evoke the protection that style and manners and wealth provide and to demonstrate that passion can destroy it all In Madame de there occurs a rather intricate merger of complex even dazzling camera work with a thematic idea revolving around mankinds obsession with material objects In order to establish this union Ophuls creates a narrative framework based upon a notion of circularity in which Madame des earrings being material remain constant while the changing emotional situations of their various possessors continuously alter the earrings symbolic implications Ultimately they emerge as a badge of love and as the harbinger of domestic tragedy The fundamental element in this clash between what is best described as a relentless unfolding of events and the deliberate stasis represented by the earrings is performed by Ophuls tracking camera as it juxtaposes intimate and dramatic shots to reveal both theme and character Supporting this technique is an extremely poised delineation of the films narrative materials to create a delicate balance between the lush luxuriant atmosphere conveyed by the settings in which the events unfold and the camera technique used to record them This interplay is strikingly displayed in the films opening scene in which the camera
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