30
Jul 07

Goethe In Love

Do You See + FTPost a comment • 553 views

moliere.jpgLike many seventeenth century punters who did not early adopt Facebook or the like, we don’t know much about Molière’s life. Much like we don’t know an awful lot about Shakespeare’s day to day routine. This I fear is not a good enough reason in both cases to suggest that the highpoint in their respective bodies of literature are based on real actual events than happened to them which resembled nothing more that an early 21st century romantic comedy.

It is particularly galling for Molière, writer of noted farces, to suggest that an aspect of his life was indeed a plainly ridiculous farce that he later based Tartuffe on. It does however allow the film-maker to make a freely adapted version of Tartuffe without having to bother with Molière’s language, pacing or indeed plot to do so. Instead you can just dress up an attractive young actor like the very few poor paintings of Molière that exist, stuff the ladies into corsets and you have a pleasantly amenable period rom-com. Not one for students of literature itself, the closest the film gets to anything profound is in the proto-Molière being apparently pissed off that everyone wants him to do comedies, not tragedies. So basically Roman Duris is playing him as a seventeenth century Jim Carrey. At least it hasn’t got Gwyneth Paltrow with a sticky on moustache in it. (It does have Ludvigne Sangier using the hair-dye from Perfume and looking the dead spit of early X-Files Gillian Anderson though).

Therefore I expect to see a film in a couple of years from the newly emergent German cinema cashing in on this trend. It will tell the tale of the young Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s first job in Leipzieg working as a clerk for Mr Faust, fishmonger. Goethe falls in love with Mr Faust’s daughter Flossi (played by Franka Potente) but is stunned to discover than she has promised to Mr Devil, the local merchant. Goethe plots with Flossi about how they can elope together, but he is needlessly held up by a coupel of burglars. Flossi escapes but assumes Goethe has been killed, and goes off to live in Frankfurt. Goethe leaves to become a playwright, finally meeting up with Flossi in the final years of his life (to allow for a meaningful framing device.) Mr Faust sells sole to Mr Devil.

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