I The Addams Family (PG) Morticia, Gomez and the rest of the fiendish family make their big screen debut in a blackly funny and visually stylish adaptation of the cult TV series. Sec feature.
I American Tale 2: Fievel Goes West (U) The Mousekewitz family leave their tenement in New York and head out to the Wild West. Lovable cartoon comedy from the Spielberg stable. See review.
I Enchanted April (U ) Two women leave their dull lives, husbands and responsibilities behind them in 205 London when they head off to live in an Italian villa for a month. See review.
I Hot Shots ( 12) Billed as ‘the mother of all movies‘. Jim Airplane! Abrahams‘s latest spoof is a somewhat puerile send-up of Top Gun. filmed at the same time as the Gulf War. See preview.
I Parsilal (PO) A rare screening of Hans Jurgen Syberberg's film version of Wagner‘s masterpiece is hopefully the first in a regular series of opera film Sunday matinees at the Cameo. See index! listings.
I Prool(15) A strange tale ofa blind photographer who uses his skills to prove that his imagined world is the same one sighted people see. Winner ofsix Australian ‘Oscars‘ including best film/ director/actor. See review.
I Valmont (15) Long-awaited release for Milos Forman‘s adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which brings to life the intrigues and seductions of 18th century French aristocracy. See preview. I Why Has Bodhi-Dhanna Lelt For The East? (12 ) Zen Buddhist philosophies and the stunning mountain scenery of Korea lie behind this tale of an old master, his young disciple and an orphan. alone together in a remote Lmonastery.
Not so dangeros
Colin Firth, the star of Valmont, may have a difficult act to follow but his lack of eyebrows and
j awline don’t seem to bother him, as he explains to J o Roe.
Almost four years ago Milos Forman, the Czech-born director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo 's Nest and Amadeus started filming one of his favourite novels. Within a matter of months another version of the same book had been shot. spliced and marketed even before Forman‘s film had left the editing suite. Both were adapted from the same classic French novel ofsexual intrigue. but such was the impact of Stephen Frears‘ version, Dangerous Liaisons. which won widespread critical acclaim and scooped three Oscars, it was decided that Valmont. Forman‘s film. should spend some time on the shelf.
lfpublic reaction in Germany is anything to go by, this was the correct commercial decision. The two films opened at roughly the same time and while Dangerous Liaisons played to packed houses. Valmont bombed. But direct comparison of the two appears to be slightly unfair. as Frears‘ version is actually the Film ofthe Play ofthe Book and is scripted by Christopher Hampton who made the stage adaption. When Forman went to see the play at the request of his agent he found it to be very different to the novel he remembered. On re-reading the original he realised that his memory had softened its edges and decided that his own production would ﬂesh-out the novel and attempt to understand the characters.
However, the basics of the plot remain the same. even ifForman has moved away from the book's ending. Valmont. a rich professional philanderer and his ex-lover. the sadistic Marquise de Merteuil, conspire to ruin the virtue of the young, beautiful Cecile, and thus her arranged marriage to the older Monsieur de Gercourt. who not only requires that his bride is rich, but
Valmont: not as dangerous as Dangerous Liaisons
also that she be a virgin.
Where Frears cut sharply from one chilling shot to another. Forman has leisurely clothed his characters in charm. This is evident right from the opening sequence. Gone is the face paint and dressing up. the putting on ofpublic faces which mask treachery and malice. to be replaced by a pretty tracking shot across the serene face ofa convent to find Cecile singing forthc nuns.
But what Forman loses by way of razor-sharp elegant intrigue. he more than makes up for by emphasising the nature ofthe elitist and powerful class to which the characters belong. This is an arena which Frears only managed to hint at in one. essentially humorous. scene. Right to the edges of the wide screen. Forman‘s film is peopled with servants and peasants who wander through almost impossibly delicate and intricate interiors. Their presence makes Valmont‘s public seductions even more grotesque
than his private deﬂowerment of
As Colin Firth who plays Valmont observes. ‘He is incapable of friendship or any relationship with a woman that is not sexual. We even reckon that he probably had Cecile‘s mum as well. Even the relationship with the old lady is flirtatious. Women are all a means to his own sense ofpower. But I don‘t think he operates from lust.‘ Forman apparently wanted a leading man who could be manipulatively seductive. without being sinister. ‘l
knew I didn't have the eyebrows and the jawline to be the other interpretation’, Firth admits, ‘besides, the script didn‘t warrant it.‘ Forman worked closely with seriptwriter Jean Claude Carriere. Elements of the plot were sheared away that were felt to have been originally inserted to appease 18th century moralists. They dispensed with huge chunks of brilliantly penned dialogue that did not ring true to the film. ‘You don‘t get this incisive wit that you get from the Hampton school.‘ Firth admits. ‘Forman had a different attitude to language. He was much more concerned with the inner dyamics. If there was a witty line that didn‘t serve the piece. he cut it.‘ Where language is integral to Dangerous Liaisons, Valmont relies on visual metaphor. ‘lfyou speak Swahili
1 you‘ll understand the story of this
film.‘ enthuses Firth. 'lt‘sall very obvious.‘
Valmont will inevitably be unfairly
judged against Stephen Frears‘ lean production. There should ofcourse be room for both films. especially two films that achieve such radically different results. There will,l suspect. be only room for one backed by devotees of the Hampton/Frears camp enjoying elegant sneers at Forman‘s softer alternative.
Valmont opens at the Edinburgh Cameo on Friday 6 and Glasgow Film Theatre on Sunday 22.
THE FILMS 0F MILOS FORMAN
Cerny Petr (1963)
Laslty Jende Plavovlasky ( 1965)
Hart, Ma Panelto! (1967)
Taking Oil (1970)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest ( 1975) Hair (1978 )
Valmont ( 1989)
misery. f... . - Jack Nicholson in One Flew OverThe Cuckoo's Nest
16 The List 6 — 19 December 1991