My Gleanings

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A note on "The Horseman on the Roof"

Commenters on the film “Le Hussard sur le Toit” (“The Horseman on the Roof”) sometimes speak of its “soft ending”. Of course the reason for that “soft ending” is that the Giono novel on which the film is based is second novel in a cycle. The story of Angelo Pardi and Pauline de Theus which commences in Giono’s “Angelo” continues, on paper at least, with “Le Foi Bonheur” and “La Mort d’un Personnage “.
That Jean-Paul Rappeneau was able to coax a film from the novel which had baffled filmmakers for over 40 years - Edouard Niermans/Jean Cosmos, Rene Clement/Roger Leenhardt, Luis Bunuel, and Roman Polanski had all tried- is a achievement. Rappeneau was quoted at the time of the film’s release as saying that after “Cyrano”, he wanted to try something considered “intournable” . Anyone familiar with the film and surprised to see Bunuel among those attempting to film this story would need to be told that the cholera epidemic is more in the foreground in the novel. The novel is often compared to Camus’ “La Peste”. Bunuel was probably attracted by Angelo’s lengthy stay -greatly truncated by Rappeneau- on the roofs of Manosque (at least four days, in the novel) and a further passage where Angelo works with a nun who cares for the victims of the epidemic. Note though the presence of longtime Bunuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere who reportedly was brought in late by Rappeneau .

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Blogger A said...

Hm, I really love the film, and I think it features Juliette Binoche's best performance I have seen so far (or maybe the one I liked most). But I hadn't read the novel, and it would have certainly been interesting to get a film by Bunuel or by Bresson (or even by Roger Leenhardt) on it. But than Rappenaeu might have never given us this gem.
Btw., I love the "open" end, it is imo one of the best things about the film.

Where did you get the information?

19/9/06 22:12  
Blogger jdcopp said...

Part of the information came from an article from the French literary magazine "Lire" that I found with some clippings in a drawer in a library about five years ago. But I find that that article is available on line.

I know I read Roger Leenhardt somewhere talking about being involved with René Clément but I can not remember where. Trying to find this information, I found this page

By the way, there was an episode on the Combat TV series from the 60s where Joan Hackett plays a Character very much like Pauline de Theus. It is titled "The Chateau" and was shown in the first season. Hackett even seems to me to look like Binoche.

20/9/06 21:59  
Blogger A said...

Tried to read the two articles, but my french was only good enough for some basic understanding ;-)
But the wide world of the web always seems to have a lot of interesting stuff to offer if you dig deep enough.
Thanks for your efforts with the translations, btw.

Don't know about the Combat TV series. I guess that part of american culture is lost on me (unless somebody releases a bunch of DVDs that is).

21/9/06 07:22  
Blogger jdcopp said...

"Combat" is available on DVD but only in region 1. The show lasted from 1962 to 1967 and they made about 150 episodes. There are something like ten coffrets and 20 discs in all. The first season holds up very well some forty years later. Robert Altman before his feature film days was the principal director and producer that season but he was fired about half-way through it. The six or so episodes that he directed are very good. He does the commentary for one on the first DVD.

21/9/06 22:00  

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