User Reviews (17)

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  • J'ai été enchanté.

    Ironically this film was nominated for the Oscar as the best foreign language film. It is not a foreign language film, it is a film without language, no spoken word. Everything that is worth to be told is told with music and dance. We see the history of the 20th century France as the history of a dancing. Times change and the dance changes with time. So the problems that people face change. Decay of the aristocracy, German occupation, youth revolution of 68, racial conflicts, everything can be seen on this dancing as well as the love, aspirations, despair, hatred.

    The film is one of my personal best 25.
  • ytbufflo-130 January 2006
    A movie that carves its own niche in film history in the most delicate, ephemeral way imaginable. The cast is among the finest ensemble gatherings I have ever seen, and the combined efforts of all concerned seems to add up to far more than seems possible for what is basically a silent film. It reminds me a bit of the magical transformation Altman managed to create on the set of McCabe and Mrs. Miller, as if all the actors were put under the same spell, and responded to the challenge with a uniform brilliance.

    The camera work in Le Bal is just as nuanced and evolved as the work of the actors, but it never feels forced or artificial. All of the actors I have seen in many other films, and they seem so much more self-aware than many of the actors you see in the states. There is a feeling from this film as if the actors themselves created it, for which the director deserves my highest praise. And the subtle way the film morphs from black and white to a hand tinted look to modern color throughout is also so masterful that you almost don't notice it.

    This is NOT A FILM FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T LIKE DANCING!!! It is a film for people who like to watch an exquisite evolutionary process. I liken it to an orchid, in that you learn a special kind of patience from waiting for it to bloom, but the blooms are always worth the wait, and last in the mind forever. I pray that a behind the scenes DVD will be released soon, as do many others, and recommend this highly.
  • If someone would ask my top 10 movies,this one will be,without any doubt there.I wonder why is so difficult to get a DVD copy. Basically,this movie is about some 50 years of 20th century European history.Basically,because the movie is far more then this:is a declaration of love for cinema,is also a theatrum mundi,a world theater, in which human passions,the good and the bad ones,are its main characters. The big bet is that all this is told without saying a word.Rooted somehow in the music-hall,classical ballet and still movie,this masterpiece unfolds its beauty in dance,mimic,a peculiar semiotic intended more to suggest than to affirm. 2 hours of music and dance,without the slightest second of bore.It's delicate,funny,cerebral,interesting,diverting,remains in your mind and soul for ever.A must.
  • In "Le Bal" (1983) directed by Ettore Scola, the 50 year history of Europe happens in front of you in one ballroom somewhere in Paris where the same actors play the different characters that live through their dances From 1930s to the 1980s as the time passes by and politics, social behavior, and fashion change with each new epoch... For less than two hours we would go through the wars, peace, racial conflicts, student riots of 1968 while Ettore Scola's camera never leaves the ballroom. Dialogues and relationships are realized through the music and dancing only with no word spoken. Ironically, the film was nominated by the Academy for the Best Foreign Language movie award. It should have been nominated for the best Universal Language award – the language of music… The soundtrack features the works of such composers as Frederick Chopin, Irving Berlin, John Lennon, and Paul Mc Cartney. The original music was written by one of my favorite film composers, Vladimir Cosma. I saw "Le Bal" over twenty years ago and it has stayed with me over all these years as fantastic, one of its kind unforgettable film.
  • This movie without any verbal dialogue enchants you from the very first moment. About twenty people meet one night at a dance-party... As they begin to dance, they (and the audience with them) live through the modern history of their country. The music naturally plays the central role in this film. The film is grotesque, funny, and moving at the same time, full of nice quotations from the cultural history of the 20th century. Absolutely great performances from the actors (all of them are more than good, but I would give Marc Berman the loudest applause)- they surely had fun doing this movie. This is a film to be purchased on video and watched again and again, with reasonable intervals - you can't really get fed up with it.
  • This film it is only with music, no words and tens of characters. The same artist makes 3,4,5 roles. Each time I see this movie, I cry and laugh, I get convinced that Scola is a genius. A brilliant script, a conception very original, and many surprises in most of the scenes. I highlighted Marc Berman, Nani Noël, the Penchenat and Anita Pichiarini. What Ettore Scola made with this film should be repeated with all mankind. It is the world united by ball dance, popular music and not with words. What count are the ideas. Here in Brasil, the DVD of "Le Bal" still sells very well and is one of the most expensives. I wish that "Thêàtre du Campagnol" ever and ever have a success. Congratulations to all technicians for this magnificent spectacle.
  • tapit17 April 2005
    This piece is brilliant and it's tragic it's not more widely available. I just saw it for the first time in several years and was blown away at how perfect it was. Any dialogue would have ruined it, actually, because it was the finest example of European physical theatre I've ever seen. The casting was inspired. I am not in the habit of raving about films without qualifiers, but this one deserves it. The characters develop in such subtle ways, that it reminds me that this is not only a history of a ball room but of a person's life itself and the persistence of memory. It lends itself to so many layers of meaning, but still, it can be enjoyed just for itself...
  • This movie is absolutely magical - taking place in a French ball room, it takes you through time. Year in year out, the music, the dances, the style and fashions change. We see the characters' hopes, fears and desires, we watch their interactions. We see how changes in the outside world affect them. Ettore Scola does this without letting his characters speak.The music, the cinematography, the dancing and interacting are the elements which let us experience the intensity of the voyage through time. Scola does not need language for this. However, this movie should not be mistaken for a kind of dancing medley. It is a keen observation of human behavior, accompanied with deep insight and empathy.
  • A movie without any word, no dialogue, but you don't feel that something is missing. The music, the dance and choreography, replace any missing dialogue. You get a history of France as seen and heard from a dance-hall stage at certain points in time : 1936,1940,1944,1946,1956, 1968, & 1983. Special remarks for Marc Berman & Jean-Francois Perrier and for the man behind writing and acting Jean-Claude Penchenat - La "croix de feu". Real nice movie - a 9 mark.
  • I first saw this movie 20 years ago, and it has stuck in my mind ever since. I have stumbled upon it several times since, and once even had a very poor copy video of it.

    It traces the history of Europe/France/Paris through a dancehall and its patrons in the last century. There is no dialogue- only dancing and music and the personal interactions of the patrons. If it sounds strange and different, that may be because it is. A small group of actors and actresses play different roles in each era, and it is amazing how your feelings about them change with each era.

    Trying to describe this movie after so many years only reminds me of how special it was.
  • I'm not one to use the term "brilliant" when describing a film, but LE BAL certainly merits it. It sounds so dry when you tell people the plot: a bunch of people in a timeless (in more ways than one) dance hall in Paris, with a series of vignettes that give the viewer a history of not only France but Europe (and in some places, the world) from the late 20s to the mid-80s. And yet that's what it is and what makes it so incredibly brilliant. The director uses each time's music and dance to make a statement about life as it was, whether during the Occupation or the 60s era student riots. His performers are all, to a man/woman, spot on with their characterizations: the man who's more concerned about his perfect hair than the safety of his dancing partner, the controlling woman who rhythmically waves her hands to keep her men at a suitable distance, the near-sighted wallflower who IIRC never gets on the dance floor. Even the buffoons are so elegantly shaded that you find yourself rooting for them in the end.

    This little masterpiece is now almost impossible to find, so grab it when you do see it. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Yes, it is that good.
  • "Le Bal" ("The Ball") is an unique experience for movie lovers out there, specially those who enjoy musical numbers. The movie specialty lies in the fact that throughout the 50 year story of a French ballroom there's no dialogs at all. Ettore Scola and his team of writers throw away the words replacing them with music (the only voices heard comes from the radio or the singers of the place), acting, dancing, the actors actions and expressions, body language used to the fullest, the costumes from each period visited by the film (going from the 1930's up until the 1980's) and the incredible art-direction that reveals small changes while staying in the exact same place.

    It's more like a testament piece of what art does to people or its meaning through the ages than a movie concerned in making a speech. Scola explores the Jazz era, the WWII, brilliantly presented with a lack of music, the darkened ballroom and the people hearing the bombs falling somewhere near; there's even the rock n' roll explosion with rude characters tearing the place apart with their noise and excitement; the Beatlemania and his memorable songs (repesented here with two versions of "Michelle"); the colorful disco era among others. The creators from "Le Bal" picture the periods the way they used to be, and they all happen in the ballroom amidst laughters, dancing, styles, behavior, sensations.

    Rescuing a little the techniques of a silent film, "Le Bal" is a seductive, fascinating and powerful movie that can be used to work with acting methods, nuances, how to use the expression. The actors, always the same in each decade, and almost playing the exact same part with some changes, say much more without words than many famous actors out there. Their communication skills are amazing. Take a look at the beginning of the movie with the introduction of the female characters entering the ballroom. They're anxious, can't wait to meet their dance partners. They all express the same thought, their faces show variations of this at the same time. And they're skillful dancers as well, going through all the decades, dancing to all the different styles in the most impeccable way.

    It's a magical work, a little tiring in some parts, but fabulously well made, constructed with precision. Light-hearted, warming and echoing some many different genres into one, "Le Bal" can put to shame many musicals out there, including many from the Metro, specially in the matter of being real and magical at the same time. The most incredible sequence of the movie involves the welcoming of a man, friend of the frequenters of the place, who returned from the war. His friends look at him with sadness in their eyes, the music stops. What happened? He lost his leg. Our thoughts (audience and characters) are the same: he'll no longer dance. But no. He walks through the room, compliments one of the women there and they start dancing, he's jumping with his remaining leg. He's not clumsy at all, he does it with perfection. And there's plenty of beauty in this moment.

    Tragedies go by but the art, the joyful moments stays on. "Le Bal" is a proof of that. 9/10
  • It must be nearly 20 years ago that I saw this film on a VHS rental and fell in love with it. I agree with other reviewers that it's a solid 10, one of the best movies ever made. I don't agree that it requires a love for dancing, or even a great interest in music, although the music, songs and dancing are great. While the movie is set in a French dance hall, which contributes a very special kind of atmosphere, it really isn't just a movie about dancing by any means. The fact that it hasn't a single word of spoken dialogue may be seen by some as a gimmick, and perhaps one that's made DVD producers shy away from it. The only available DVD seems to be the very expensive version in European format. What a pity.
  • A unique experience, though it reminded me a little of the movie Climax with Sofia Boutella, but without the drugs, hysteria and violence of course - also without any professional or even good dancing for the most part. The theater-like movie sets the stage for a roster of distinct and memorable characters, but it's rather difficult to keep track of each of them with every time jump and changing role, which consequently makes it hard to flash out a red line of what the movie is trying to say. Thus, Le Bal remains a rather superficial depiction of French modern history with a few strong emotional moments. Unfortunately this movie's high point is right in the middle of the runtime, therefore the second half becomes rather dull.
  • brinberlin22 November 2019
    Rare to see a film where every aspect, from the decor to the wordless stories, fits so perfectly together. Moving, and encompasses everything from the tiniest personal detail to the largest universal, like a Leonard Cohen song.
  • All Ettore Scola's films are impressing in one way or another but especially for all being totally different from each other: the diversity of his themes is always extreme. Here he has chosen to make a film of not one spoken word throughout the film but only music and dancing, and still he manages to capture the entire French 20th century from the 30s to the 80s (1936-83) in just dancing stages from different epochs but all in one and the same dancing hall. The music shifts according to the times, while some tunes reoccur now and then in different arrangements, especially "J'attendrai", and if you are familiar with higher levels of entertainment music of these times you will recognize every one of them. As a friend, who watched the film with me, said: "I danced to every one of all those melodies."

    So this rare feature, reminding of nothing else, totally unique in its brillant idea and concept, is a kind of universal documentary of dance music and style during 50 years. There are some very touching and sensitive moments, as when a sole trumpet suddenly starts playing one of the most common Paris songs in overwhelming beauty, or when a missing war invalid makes his entrance on crutches and starts dancing on one leg, perhaps the finest scene in the entire film, but it is replenished with such. This is a film you will look forward to seeing again some time.
  • Each film by Ettore Scola is a special experience and different from all the others, and 'Le bal' made in 1983 is no exception. 28 years before Michel Hazanavicius' 'The Artist', Scola made a film devoid of dialogue, but the producers sent it at the Academy Awards in the category of foreign language films. Indeed, the language not spoken in the film is French, but the film is Italian, and that year it won an impressive collection of both the Cesar and David di Donatello awards. The place of the dialogues is taken by the music signed by Vladimir Cosma, and the image belongs to Ricardo Aronovich. 'Le bal' combines the musical genre with the historical documentary taking us through almost half a century of French history, all in steps of dance.

    Life is dance and dance is life in this film that takes place exclusively in the space of a Parisian ballroom, where a gallery of female and male characters gathers, brought here by their passion for dance and music, and their desire to avoid loneliness and to socialise. A few archetypes run through the ages - the ageing ladies hunting partners and maybe even marriage, the faded Don Juan forever looking for a romantic adventure, the lonely and spectacled woman who reads the movie magazine of the time, the gangster who destroys parties with violence, the speculator and collaborator with his dubious business and, of course, the bartender getting older along with the ballroom. The music changes according to the era, as do the decorations of the walls, and the live shots become, one after the other, pieces of museum on a wall of memories. I recommend 'Le bal'. Lovers of dance and music will enjoy it, history buffs will be interested, and those who appreciate cinema that ignores the rules to create a special reality of its own will appreciate this special film by Ettore Scola.