26 September 2019 | dromasca
a theater love story
I saw the play 'Edmond' written and staged by Alexis Michalik in Paris almost two years ago. The show had received five Molieres prizes (the supreme distinctions of the French theater) and impressed me with the combination of modernism and respect for tradition, of perfectly professional acting with tasteful directorial innovations, placed in the service of the spectators and their experiences. Theatre du Palais-Royal where the performance took place was also the place where (about 120 years ago) the events in the play take place - the story of the creation and of the premiere of one of the most successful works in the history of French theater, Edmond Rostand's 'Cyrano de Bergerac'. I was looking forward to seeing the film version created by the same director, and my expectations were largely rewarded.
For the spectators who are passionate about the history of the theater and especially the history of the French theater, this film will be a delight. The sparkling dialogue, the humor based upon situations and characters, and the interpretation of the actors team made up in the good tradition of the Comedie Francaise (with a special mention for Olivier Gourmet in the role of the great actor Coquelin) seemed to me very good. Beyond the love story or story in the film's plot, Alexis Michalik's 'Edmond' is a love affair with the French theater and an affectionate tribute to theater creators 120 years ago. Another great quality of the film is the glamorous and colorful reconstruction of Paris in the last decade of the 19th century. From this point of view, 'Edmond' walks on the traces of films like 'Moulin Rouge!' directed by Baz Luhrmann or Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo', combining meticulous documentation, attention to detail and respect for authenticity, and using computer graphics techniques to enhance history and to create the landscape of an era of fascinating social diversity and artistic effervescence.
How does the film compare to the play (which originally was based on a script that could not find financing a few years ago)? The theatrical version of 'Edmond' directed by Alexis Michalik was free-flowing and dynamic, in a cinematic style. The film version of 'Edmond' directed by Alexis Michalik is largely based on a theatrical style in which the beauty of the text and the art of the actors transform the words into feelings, with focus on passion for theater. Technically, both achievements are impressive. As an impact on the public, however, I believe that the theatrical version succeeded better. The reason is, perhaps, that in theater the cinematic style has most of the positive influence, while in the film the theatrical style adds a difficult-to-avoid ballast.