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European-American Topics - Cinema - Moliere

By Caroline Planque
Posted August 12, 2007


   In 1644, the French playwright, Molière, went missing for a few months — and it was never explained. Laurent Tirard creates a fictional illustration of the whereabouts of the playwright during those lost months; in the style that Molière would have used to write one of his plays. 

    Molière, which closed this year’s 33rd Seattle International Film Festival, will ravish the Northwest film buffs with its French style and lightheartedness about the matters of love. Casting Romain Duris as a young and modern Molière, this comedy of manners offers a refreshing look at the work of a playwright one might have dismissed as old-fashioned. Widely distributed abroad, the international appeal of the movie lies in its idealized image of France through the use of language and settings. 

    Tirard, a French filmmaker who studied in New York and worked in Los Angeles before heading back home, confesses that he is more interested in the works of Molière than in the man himself. “I wanted to make a film that would resemble one of his plays,” said Tirard. “Moreover, I wanted to take Molière himself and throw him inside this play.” Tirard rediscovered the works of Molière three years ago and realized how brilliant and contemporary his writings were, and that he could borrow from each of his plays to make his film. 

    The movie was well received in France by literature teachers, who were enthusiastic about this new approach to one of France’s most studied authors, but less so by history teachers who did not understand the logic behind it: why create a fiction that could be taken for facts by their students? 

    In the end, Tirard is convinced that most people will not be confused. It is all about how things are presented, he says, and he trusts the public to be more intelligent. He admits that he does “feel insulted when a filmmaker explains too much in a movie” and therefore wants to let the viewers figure out for themselves the feature’s openly extravagant plot.

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