Le Colonel Chabert

Film
Resurfacing in the wake of the Depardieu rendering, this turns out to be a prime example of how the same story can be construed differently, according to time and circumstance. In 1994, Balzac's tale seemed ideologically unexceptionable, with a faded representative of France's military glory denouncing the violence exercised in the name of la patrie, and finally withdrawing from a world that has defeated him, to live out a life of quiet resignation. Fifty years before, however, this must have seemed tailor-made for the occupying Nazis; even the flashbacks to the battle of Eylau would have found favour, since that showed a victory over the Russians. Only the film's status as a faithful adaptation of a literary classic mitigates the collaborationist charge. Less urgently, it's fascinating to compare the two Chaberts - Depardieu crashing around like a baffled bull, Raimu all icy disdain and calculated glimpses of pathos.

By: BBa

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