Friday, January 13, 2012

Sacha Guitry


I'm working on something for A Canterbury Tale, but while that's in the oven, there's this. I don't normally endorse DVDs because mostly, I don't feel they need it. No need to hip anyone to the gorgeous African Queen BD because you pretty much knew if you were getting it already. But I must give a strong, strong recommendation to the Criterion/Eclipse set of Sacha Guitry movies. These Eclipse sets are excellent—not because the movies are all great but because they broaden your horizon. It's a bit like prospecting and, pardon the expression, this Guitry release is like striking oil (or maybe finding pearls).


None of these movies are bad and The Pearls of the Crown in particular really needs an audience. With Guitry's rapid-fire pacing and almost flippant disregard for the dramatic, he briskly whisks you along a glorious, ramshackle historic voyage culminating in his own modern day treasure hunt. You know how a history book can depict the lives and deaths of generations in a paragraph? Imagine seeing that same narrative speed on film. Guitry really understood the medium, I think, and seeing waves of kings and queens pop in and out of existence in a matter of seconds is very funny; it's done very cinematically as well—I doubt you could achieve this effect in writing or painting.

See these movies. I have no reason to lie or illusion myself or others. If these four movies are any indication, the man Sacha Guitry had every bit of wit his contemporaries Lubitsch or Sturges had—not something you can say very often.

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