Rubin Museum of Art | 150 West 17th Street
1952, France, Max Ophüls, 97 min, French with English subtitles
With Jean Gabin, Danielle Darrieux, Simone Simon
Introduced by author Ian Buruma
Roving with his dazzlingly mobile camera around the decadent ballrooms, bucolic countryside retreats, urban bordellos, and painter’s studios of late nineteenth-century French life, Max Ophüls 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, Le Plaisir pinpoints the cruel ironies and happy compromises of life with a charming and sophisticated breeziness.
“Ophuls’ fluent camera does a lot of lively roving in this film and picks up a deal of pungent flavor in the rococco environmental spheres. Peter Ustinov’s off-screen narration as the voice of de Maupassant is droll. On the whole, ‘Le Plaisir’ affords such pleasures as are few and unrestrained in this hard world. ”
– Bosley Crowther, New York Times
About the Introducer
Ian Buruma is a writer and a professor at Bard College. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books. His latest book, ‘Theater of Cruelty’, is published by NYRB. ‘Year Zero: A History of 1945’ (Penguin USA) is now out in paperback.
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