9 July 2006 | bosu_rares
One of the best period pieces
To those who haven't seen it (yet), I can only compare Nicolaescu's "Francois Villon" with Bergman's "Seventh Seal" - the same depth of vision, heavy, religion-impregnated atmosphere, the sense of "vanity fair". And yet, there's something more to "Francois Villon" - the typical medieval sarcasm, laughter in the face of Death - actually it's exactly the way the film begins, the newly-graduate students of Sorbonne celebrate their success by stealing house firms and putting them around the necks of the hanged at Montfaucon (a good opportunity for Villon to recite the famous "Ballad of the hanged" - actually, Florent Pagny is quite good at it, but he's only good until the seasoned Romanian actors enter the scene). Throughout the film there is misery and grandeur (when the poet arrives at Blois and takes part in a contest with his "Ballad of adverse truths", then meets a chess player who is tired of winning and keeps hoping to find at a crossroad "the one who shall give me back my soul - God!" - quite a starting coincidence with Bergman's Knight playing chess with Death, don't you think?), irony and ferocity (like when Villon is imprisoned at Thybault d'Aussigny's castle, and the bishop - masterfully played by Silviu Stanculescu, one of the best Romanian actors - wants to turn him into "God's poet", and keeps plaguing him "Francois, have you been thinking? Have you given it good thought?" while holding him in a dungeon to live on only bread and water, till one day, the exasperated poet cries "I want to die!"; not to mention a grand moment when the King of the Poor - played by another Romanian great, Ion Marinescu - says "I know my place lord, that is in hell, next to you, but what about this man? Is he yours or the other one's?"). In short, the film has everything a period piece needs to impress and imprint into memory. I can only hope that some day soon, Mr. Nicolaescu finds it proper to put it on DVD (as he has done with several of his other films). And now "God save you, and be with us!" as one soldier says.