FALLING IN LOVE…WITH LOVE ( ? )
Good Golly! What was IN that Waltz?!
The Baron ( DeSica ) spots Madame de… and instantly falls for her. Sometimes love happens like that. He falls like a ton of bricks. He pursues her, woos her on the dance floor. He waits for her. He doesn’t rush things or pressure her. It’s all very polite. He
attends a conference but fondles a flower she sent him that he has pressed inside his portfolio. He has gentlemen outside his office door clamoring to see him about big political matters of the day. Yet he sits in his office, writing letters to her, trying to find… just…the…right…words ( with the help of a dictionary ). He lets affairs of state lapse a little. Wreckless? Unserious? Immoral? Others can make those judgments. To me…aaaah, he’s a man in love. They dance.
Ahh…the dance. It really was a dance of love wasn’t it. During the dance we can see Madame de… fall in love. Not with some MTV heavily edited montage. Simply, through one waltz… they fall in love.
We watch love bloom before our very eyes. The days between them meeting again on the dance floor shorten – from four days to two days, down to one day – perhaps time stands still. Who knows < Sigh! > when one is in love. Great way Ophüls chooses to show time passing via this dance.
The movie is not all tragic romantic romance though. Ophüls manages to stick in a couple of bits of comic business that were just plain cute:
Those darned earrings…again!
- the opening and closing of the box seats doors at the Opera as the General looks for the earrings
- the General repeatedly opening the door ajar as he tries to usher the Jeweler quickly out of his office
- the Pawnbroker/Jeweler’s son sent up and down the spiral staircase with last minute requests from his father
- the Jeweler’s son even asks about her ( oooh, that was sooooo cute )
But the main thrust of the story is the romance and the choices the triangle makes.
Helpless in how one feels…
Poor poor Madame de…. I feel sorry for her. She fell in love probably for the first time in her life and didn’t know WHAT hit her. She probably never had a self-reflexive thought in her pretty little French head. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character as lovesick as she. Love-sick. Laying in bed, prostrate, pale, listless, uncajoled by her husband…not eating. She literally was sick from Love ( or its lack thereof ). I don’t think she disliked her husband. Their arrangement looks amicable. I don’t know we’ve been given enough evidence to speculate WHAT her marriage was based on. Judging by the Grand Canyon distance of their bedrooms…you can draw your own conclusions. I think she tries her best to run away from this Love and the Baron with one eensy teensy weensy bit of warning:
“I’d hate to see you caught up in my game.”
Yet she did keep those earrings close to her.
Suppressed tears burn my throat when the General takes Madame de… to the railway station for her “Assessment Journey.” In that close little train compartment their silence is deafening. The chasm between them is as claustrophobic as that compartment. He leaves words unspoken…not daring to speak, ‘less it tip the delicate balance against him. That was the most poignant scene to me. I felt the sorriest for him here. He had to let her go, and that killed me. Who hasn’t been there. Who hasn’t had a party shutdown around them when you’re the only two left because you don’t want to say goodbye; saying goodbye when you’re dying to say ANYTHING but. Poor poor general.
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