Lola Montès

19 April, 2013 - 20:00
SPHINX cinema
Introduced by Marcel Ophuls

Resistance. If there is a single word that characterizes the work of Marcel Ophuls, this is it: resistance to every form of injustice and banalisation, resistance to the prevailing dogmas of documentary cinema. It is an attitude that is marked both by a whole-hearted abhorrence (for indifference) and by passionate love (for narrative film).

Lola Montès

Max Ophuls
,
DE, FR
,
1955
,
35mm
,
colour
,
110'

Max Ophuls' final film (and his only movie in color) is a cinematic tour-de-force masquerading as a biography, in this case a dazzling fictionalized life of the notorious 19th century dancer, actress, and courtesan. “Did his father's reputation as a filmmaker help or hinder Marcel? "It helped me to get work. More than anything, it helped me to be modest about my achievements. I was born under the shadow of a genius, and that spared me from being vain. I don't have an inferiority complex - I am inferior." Ophuls worked with his father only once, as third assistant director on Lola Montès. "That means I was the coffee carrier." It was his father's last film, one the critics hailed for its ingenuity. In one shot, Lola arrives in a circus ring to re-enact scenes from her life while standing on a turntable that revolves in one direction, while the camera tracks round her in the opposite direction. "He was a genius, but that film killed him. I carried the coffee and saw him withering." It was then Max had his first heart attack; two years later he died. "People say he was a romantic who dealt with private things like love and I was political," says Ophuls. "That's bullshit. I never make a distinction between private life and politics - that's a petit bourgeois thing. How can you make a stand against Nazi Germany, or in Rwanda, when you live life by making that distinction? What I am saying has to do with citizenship." (from an interview with Stuart Jeffries, 2004)