Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Le Mysteré de la Chambre Jaune, a movie by Bruno Podalydes (2003)

Le Mysteré de la Chambre Jaune, a movie by Bruno Podalydes (2003), with : Denis Podalydes, Pierre Arditi, Sabine Azema, Claude Rich, Jean-Noel Broute, Oliver Gourmet, Michael Lonsdale, Julos Beaucarne - 2003 - France-Belgium - 118 min.

The film is by Podalydès Bruno, a French director of which I had never heard of, but .. what cast! Claude Rich, Pierre Arditi, Michael Lonsdale .. enough already these three and advancing!
Then there was another Podalydès, Denis, this time, that I did not know: I thought they were father and son, then I saw the photos and I realized that they had to be brothers indeed! The fact is that the Podalydès plays with great skill, the journalist Joseph Rouletabille dell'Epoque, the protagonist of the famous novel by Gaston Leroux, from which the film is based.
Rouletabille, aims to find a solution to the attempted murder of the daughter of the famous Professor Stangerson, Matilda, who lives with his father in the Castle of Glandier. It’s a challenge to reason : how did the murderer to leave a room whose only window is closed by solid iron railings welded absolutely not tampered, and whose door was double-locked from the inside, so that, to open it, four persons have thrown down their shoulders? Rouletabille was opposed in his action, which is not only physical, but mainly deductive to the famous French policeman Larsan, played by Pierre Arditi: in fact he is convinced that the author of the attempted murder is Darzac Robert, played by another great actor, Olivier Gourmet (Palme d'Or at Cannes for Best Actor in 2002 for Le Fils).
Darzac, who is a physicist and is the boyfriend of Matilda (Sabine Azéma, another great French actress) actually does nothing to exonerate himself, indeed .. behaves awkwardly so that you have another opinion of him: the first scene in which appears, he pales to when Rouletabille says a phrase that he accidentally already heard from him and Matilda, on the occasion of a previous social event to which he too, Rouletabille had been invited. We understand, then, that for a type so curious as Rouletabille, the mystery began at that time, when he had heard repeated with anguish the phrase "the presbytery has lost nothing of its charm, nor the garden its brightness." What ever will say this sentence? And to which event it is connected?

Who doesn’t heard to speak about the famous novel by Gaston Leroux, whom John Dickson Carr stated to be "the best mystery that had ever been written"? Well, I am sure that today many persons unfortunately ignore that Gaston Leroux signed in 1907 Le Mystere de la Chambre Jaune, and later Le Parfum de la Dame en Noir, novels which at the time did rage, and imprinted forever in letters of fire Gaston Leroux in the firmament of crime fiction. Yet the same people who ignore these two novels, would connect immediately the author to Le Phantome de l'Opera, also by virtue of Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation. The fact is that The Mystery of the Yellow Room is really one of the most brilliant novels ever written, and if anyone could turn up their noses before the found truly genius that lies at the basis of the identification of the murderer, he should think that Leroux innovated the genre with the escamotage, which seem is now well established, and even used: just look at the final of The Bone Collector by Jeffrey Deaver. Who would ever think that Deaver today owes something toLeroux? Yet it is the God's honest truth !
The film is truly magnificent, and much like the original, except for a few things:
Darzac in the film comes to the station to receive the examining magistrate of Corbeil, Monsieur de Marquet, his Chancellor, the same Rouletabille and her photographer Sinclair, while at the original the fact happens close to castle; in the novel at the time of attempted murder of the daughter is found an open safe and documents disappeared, while in the film there is no trace; in the movie “The Beast of God” is not a cat of a witch, but a turkey (who knows why?) that is used by Mrs. Mathieu (the wife of the caretaker) to call her lover, the gamekeeper; and finally, above all, the moment of glory Rouletabille, i.e. when he exposes the murderer of the gamekeeper , it does not take place in the place where he was stabbed to death the warden (what which has the advantage, cinematically speaking, to understand the dynamics of the assassination immediately to the viewer, but reduces the explanation of the journalist and the identification of the murderer in an exhibition between friends), but at the Court Assize, where you're deciding the fate of Darzac: from this point of view, the placement of the novel gives the right size of the triumph of Rouletabille, with his arrival on the scene and his subsequent explanation.
For the rest, the film is a photocopy or nearly the novel: very beautiful photography, even the interpretation of Sinclair, Professor Stangerton (Michael Lonsdale: Do you remember the actor who played the Commissioner that unmasks "The Jackal" in the homonymous film by Fred Zinnemann? Here, he is!), the disenchanted Examining Magistrate, most lover of the table and of the theater than of the practice of judicial review (the great Claude Rich), the atmosphere. So .. a great movie!
At our days, to see a beautiful crime movie, played by great performers, is always good.
Add one more thing: in the end, Rouletabille hears "
Le Parfum de la Dame en Noir" and this happens both in the novel than in the film: in the novel was intended to introduce the rest, in the movie .. ditto. In fact, two years after the release of the first film, in 2005, was also released "Le Parfum de la Dame en Noir", directed by the same director.

Pietro De Palma

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