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Le Plaisir

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Roving with his dazzlingly mobile camera around the decadent ballrooms, bucolic countryside retreats, urban bordellos, and painter's studios of late nineteenth-century Parisian society, Max Ophuls brings his astonishing visual dexterity and storytelling bravura to this triptych of tales by Guy de Maupassant about the limits of spiritual and physical pleasure. Featuring a stunning cast of French stars (including Danielle Darrieux, Jean Gabin, and Simone Simon), Le plaisir pinpoints the cruel ironies and happy compromises of life with a charming and sophisticated breeziness. SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:New, restored high-definition digital transfer, Introduction by filmmaker Todd Haynes, English- and German-language versions of the opening narration, From Script to Screen, a video essay featuring film scholar Jean-Pierre Berthome discussing the evolution of Ophuls's screenplay for Le plaisir, Interviews with actor Daniel Gelin, assistant director Tony Aboyantz, and set decorator Robert Christides, New and improved English subtitle translation. PLUS: A new essay by film critic Robin Wood.

Review

Brilliant. --Boston Phoenix

Shot with supreme elegance. --Time Out

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Gabin, Simone Simon, Danielle Darrieux
  • Directors: Max Ophuls
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: September 16, 2008
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001BEK8BU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,554 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Le Plaisir" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 23, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The screen is pitch black and we hear a voice..."I'm so happy to be talking in the dark as if I were beside you, and maybe I am." The speaker is Guy de Maupassant (voiced by Jean Marais), and Le Plaisir is three of his stories filmed by the great director Max Ophuls. The connecting thread? That pleasure, or even love, lies in how people intermingle their lives, with a shrug, assumptions, an apology, a thank you. Le Plaisir is not so much a sophisticated film of attraction and hope as it is a film of rueful wisdom. It's best to keep in mind while watching this movie that while life can be enjoyed, there are times when hope can disappear.

The three stories consist of, first, La Masque. We are in 19th Century Paris at the Palais de la Dance, where great, swirling balls are held. This is a place where young women hope to find pleasure and rich men; where old women chase memories and young suitors; where prostitutes and their pimps gather, where the men are young bucks and old goats, where "rough cotton to the finest cambric" can combine. One slender man in full dinner dress rushes into the palace and begins to dance with a beautiful young woman. He prances and kicks, yet his face is like a frozen mask of youth. He collapses on the dance floor and a doctor is called. When the doctor loosens the man's clothes, he finds...well, let's say that when the man is delivered home to his wife by the doctor, she tells him a story of the battle between pleasure and love.

In La Maison Tellier, we learn all about a cozy, friendly and long established brothel in a small town on the Channel coast. The bourgeois men of the town are as well-known there as they are to their wives.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
This is not only one of the most profound films ever made, but one of the most dazzling and charming depictions of spirituality, etc., ever created. At the beginning, a person moves from darkness and cold and rain toward a place of light and warmth and dryness, seeking pleasure and happiness there, and that is the pattern throughout these tales. What is sought and found in the light escaletes ... toward what? Le Plaisir presents us with a playful Modern ironic version (or re-version) of the Romantic Idealist version of the Christian version of the Ladder of Love descrived in Plato's Symposium. Upward, from love of appetitive gratification to the emotional, to the intellectual, and finally to the spiritual: as Miss Rosa who gives of herself in the most direct manner and who selflessly weeps for the joy of others is given in return that moment of grace through which those nearby also share in the transfiguration, in the light of which the world is changed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Gomez Pardo HALL OF FAME on July 3, 2007
Format: DVD
Here we have one of the most extraordinary cinematographic events ever carried to big screen. Based on three tales of Guy de Maupassant and directed by the legendary Max Ophlus, (one of my favorite directors), this bl3nd of well defined stories shows three remarkable aspects about the pleasure: the pleasure and love in the first part, the pleasure and purity in the second one and finally the pleasure and the pity.

These stories work out as if they were a modern fable placed in the heart of Paris, where characters and situations are depicted with such sublime artistic intensity and sheer good taste, what magnificent camera work, what fabulous travels, what sumptuous exquisiteness in what concerns to visual support, this undeniably one of the sublime and poetic masterpieces of the French Cinema ever made, superbly directed by this master Max Ophlus.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JfromJersey on January 10, 2009
Format: DVD
When Max Ophuls returned to France after his engagement in Hollywood, he made his last 4 pictures..LA RONDE, LE PLAISIR, THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE.., and LOLA MONTES. Each was a masterpiece. Some critics list LOLA and MADAME DE as the best films ever made. Of the 4, LE PLAISIR is the least well known or acknowleged, but it has all the hallmarks of a great Ophuls movie..the distinctive and elegant camera movements, attention to detail, superb casts, depth of feeling, moral complexity, and strong feminist viewpoint.

The film is based on 3 stories by Guy de Maupassant..The Mask, The Tellier House, and The Model (which replaced a different story that had a more risque plot). The central story of The Tellier House is the main one, and is framed by the 2 shorter ones. All the stories are tales about male/female relationships, where the women are in a sense willing victims of the men. Victims might be the wrong word, because although outwardly, they are subordinate, trapped in cages by circumstance and dependent relationships, inwardly, they are mentally and emotionally braver and stronger than the men they are attached to. Each story is beautifully filmed and has visually breathtaking moments. In The Mask, it's the tracking shot in the ballroom leading up to the frenetic entrance of the masked reveler. In The Tellier House, the opening sequence slowly peering through the caged windows of the bordello, and the scene in the country church when Madame Rosa's weeping becomes contagious. In The Model, the staircase scenes where Jean and Josephine first meet, the fight that the camera fluidly follows through a number of rooms, and the final flight of Josephine up the stairs and to her destiny.

As usual, the extras on this Criterion set are praiseworthy, including a booklet, an introductory filmed essay by the noted director Todd Haynes (best seen after the movie),and several interviews with notables involved in the making of LE PLAISIR. All in all a real pleasure.
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