Close Up

22 August 2018: Perceval le Gallois


Perceval le Gallois
Éric Rohmer
1978 | 140 min | Colour | Digital
French with English subtitles

“All hail Perceval le Gallois, Eric Rohmer’s masterpiece maudit, undoubtedly one of the most original, daring, and meticulously devised films in all of cinema. […] Criminally underrated or simply unknown by the masses and many a Rohmerian, though of cherished cult status for a fair number of cinephiles (and academics), Rohmer’s near-literal adaptation of Chrétien de Troye’s incomplete 12th century Arthurian epic poem has induced as much awe as it has consternation, and misguidedly, a fair dose of derision. Admirers and dissenters alike have deemed Perceval a variation of any of the following: naïve, primitive, childlike, theatrical, stylized and stilted, fantastical, baffling, old-fashioned, anti-cinematic, postmodern, literary, and punishing – all of which resound with an air of casual insouciance considering the film’s creator was a man whose extreme erudition ensured enlightened exactitude. Rohmer’s interest in the creation of original forms (forma = Latin for beauty), like those he situated at the hearts of both Mozart and Beethoven in his delicately astute treatise, “De Mozart en Beethoven” – an intimate, semi-scholarly musicology informed by his love of the two titular composers, his approach to filmmaking, and his own predilection for free-floating ideas and essences – is not so much a pastiche panoply in Perceval; rather, it is a seemingly insuperable double translation, that of the text itself and of its modern translation into cinema form.” – Andrea Picard

Part of our season on Éric Rohmer