14 January 2001 | hellenga
"Very French" -- obscure, intense, sensual, gorgeous images and music. Loved it.
Mazeppa tells the story of a painter (Gericault) who is brought into the sensuous and strange world of a traveling "circus" -- not like Ringling Bros., but more of a demonstration of horse training and acrobatic feats on horseback. The story is of Gericault's immersion in the sensual pleasures of the circus -- gorgeous horses, gorgeous music by Ukrainian singers, gorgeous women -- and his transformation by that experience. The main strength of the movie is in the lush visuals, particularly in the portrayal of the sensuality of the horses' bodies and movement. There isn't a lot of dialogue, which allows the viewer to concentrate on everything else, but also leads to some confusion about what is happening and why. It was my sense that this was partly intentional, paralleling Gericault's experience. The film has the visual richness of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, but is not as disturbing (though there are some disturbing scenes at beginning and end). I loved this movie but gave it only a seven out of 10 because even after having seen it three or four times, I can't really say what it's about -- I love the music and the imagery so much I'm willing to overlook that, but it's hard to get anyone else to watch the movie with me.