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Lola Montès is a visually ravishing, narratively daring dramatization of the life of the notorious courtesan and showgirl, played by Martine Carol. With his customary cinematographic flourish and, for the first time, vibrant color, Max Ophuls charts Montès’s scandalous past through the bombastic ringmaster (Peter Ustinov) of the American circus where she ends up performing. Ophuls’s final film, Lola Montès is at once a magnificent romantic melodrama, a meditation on the lurid fascination with celebrity, and a meticulous, one-of-a-kind movie spectacle.
Stills from Lola Montes
Max Ophüls explores the scandalous life of dancer and courtesan Lola Montes with a bittersweet empathy that turns melodrama into a tragic melancholy masterpiece. Using the theatrical re-creation of Lola's life in a big-top pageant as a framing device, Ophüls contrasts the outrageous sensationalism of her reputation with poignant, poetic flashbacks that explore her many affairs, most notably with Franz Liszt (Will Quadflieg) and King Ludwig of Bavaria (Anton Walbrook). Lola's greatest tragedy is that she loved well, if not too wisely. If Martine Carol's central performance is lacking passion, as many critics have argued, her quiet, at times seemingly passive demeanor makes her a veritable prisoner of her society and her reputation. Swept along by Ophüls's sweeping camerawork, which glides through the film in a balance of intimacy and contemplative remove as if on the wings of angels, her life becomes like a cinematic ballet with Ophüls the choreographer and conductor. Peter Ustinov costars as the jaded circus ringmaster, who nightly narrates her exploits to a throng of scandal-hungry spectators, while she performs with a face hardened in indifference, resigned to her empty role as a figure of spectacle in a garish gilded cage. Shot in delicate color and impeccably composed widescreen compositions throughout by Ophüls's regular cinematographer Christian Matras, Lola Montes is his most beautiful and restrained film, a fitting swan song for one of the cinema's most sensitive directors. --Sean Axmaker
A justly revered classic of filmmaking, but the long sequence about the deaf Bavarian king who takes a liking to Lola should have been cut. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Doreen Appleton
This movie is listed in Danny Peary's cult movie book. I try to watch alot of the movies he writes about.Published 20 months ago by Jeff Colson
THE WHOLE STORY WAS REALLY HOLLOW, BUT THE DESIGN AND THE HANDLE OF THE WHOLE ELEMENT WAS TRULY UNFORGETTABLE AND AT HIGH-LEVEL. WATCH IT IF YOU DON'T HAVE TOP FILMS TO.Published on February 3, 2013 by HAN XIAO
This film needs an excellent reproduction and this is it.
The last of Ophuls' films, Lola Montes is fitting. Read more
Camera work is excellent, the script inventive. But why is the acting so plain awful? Especially the leading actress. Gee, she can't act! Read morePublished on July 18, 2012 by Joyce S. J. Yen
75uk Lola Montès by Max Ophüls (1955, 115')
Maximillian Oppenheimer (1902 Saarbrücken-1957 Hamburg,) -- known as Max Ophüls -- was an influential... Read more
This was an awesome movie that my parents had the honor of being cast in minor roles. I loved the costumes and the color was vibrant.Lola Montes (The Criterion Collection)Published on December 5, 2010 by Jdtartt
Beautiful to look at, fine old style film-making. One drawback for me: way too much of Ustinov yelling loudly in French. Read morePublished on November 27, 2010 by jj1
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
Lola Montès is the final film directed by Max Ophüls that he lived to see... Read more
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It is Amazon's imbecilic policy of review sharing that mixes in the ratings and reviews of the VHS tape, Fox-Lorber DVD, and Criterion blu-ray even though they are entirely different products. This makes reviews and ratings extremely unreliable and inaccurate and is a great frustration to most... Read More
May 30, 2013 by M. Judkins | See all 2 posts