The Infamous Don Juan Tale from the Main Character's Viewpoi
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Few stories about libertines have fared as well as the perennial favorite Don Juan: Mozart was inspired to write 'Don Giovanni', George Bernard Shaw penned 'Don Juan in Hell", Baudelaire wrote a play also called 'Don Juan in Hell', Jeremy Leven adapted the tale for his film 'Don Juan di Marco' for Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp - the list is nearly endless. But few adaptations of Moliere's original 1665 play have been as successful in revealing the inner man of the infamous lothario as Jacques Weber's DON JUAN. And the result is a revelation.
Jacques Weber not only carefully adapted the Moliere play, he also directs and stars (as Don Juan) in this cinema verita version. No dawdling with the feminine conquests here, this Don Juan is a may on the run, trying to avoid retribution for the scandals he causes. Weber is older, white haired, rotund, and in general does not have the physical appearance one would expect from the man who could conquer the hearts of thousands of women. This crystallizes the amoral life and mind of a man who cares for nothing except self-gratification at the expense of others. He does not believe in God, In the heaven/hell concept, he really doesn't think beyond lust and domination.
Accompanying Don Juan on his travels is his loyal servant Sganarelle (Michel Boujenah), the character who Mozart named Leparello, who does not condone his master's behavior and is constantly warning him of the inevitable outcome of his lifestyle. As the film opens Don Juan and Sganarelle, accompanied by an entourage of gentlemen, are on the run from the wrath of the brother of his last conquest Elvire (Emmanuelle Béart). In his attempt to escape by sea his ship is sunk, only to be saved by a peasant Pierrot (Denis Lavant) who takes the ailing Juan and the remainder of his entourage to safety. In the camp Don Juan recovers only to find is lustful eye resting on two women - Mathurine (Penélope Cruz) and Pierot's betrothed Charlotte (Ariadna Gil) - and creates enough havoc that he must flee the camp promising he will return and marry them.
Elvire's brothers eventually discover him on the run, a duel ensues, and the Don begins to see and hear ruminations of his downfall in the form of a statue of a Commander he had killed. The ending is know to all but the manner in which Weber pauses for Don Juan's introspection before his fate makes the old scoundrel more understandable.
The cast is excellent but not as fine as the costumes and scenery that are so well created they steel the film. The musical score rings true to the flavors of the 17th Century and enhances the mood of the story. Weber as Don Juan is an acquired taste, but whether he fits your vision of a man who can have every woman he desires or whether the viewer can re-think the lothario at the end of his time on earth, he is still a very interesting character and explains why we resurrect his story time and again. Not a film for everyone, but certainly a solid piece of theater. In French with English subtitles. Grady Harp, June 05"
DVD not anamorphic
True North | Edmonton | 02/02/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Buyer beware: the DVD is not anamorphic widescreen. Shame on Koch Lorber for such a shoddy transfer."
Don't even have to be handsome...
Marina J. Neary | Stamford, CT United States | 12/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I confess that at first I had a hard time figuring out who is Don Juan and who is the servant. I could not believe that the world's greatest womanizer would be portrayed as a fat middle-aged man with greasy gray hair. I guess he owes his popularity amoung women to his brazen attitude and his wealth. Physically is NOT attractive.
My favorite sequence is the village party. It is as if a painting came to life. The vivid colors and the vibrant music really indulge your senses."