Sunday, July 16, 2017

Camille and Moulin Rouge

Camille. Directed by George Cukor. 1936. 109 minutes. [Source: Library]

Camille is based on the play/novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils. This adaptation was released in the 1930s. (There have been other adaptations.)

Greta Garbo plays Camille and Robert Taylor plays Armand Duval. These two are destined to come together and be torn apart. She's a Parisian courtesan who--for better or worse--falls in love for the first time. Her true love isn't exactly penniless, but, he's not wealthy either. He loves her, he claims, no matter her past. He swears that his jealousy will not get the better of him and drive him mad. But is he capable of keeping that promise?

These two have three lovely months in the country together. But at the end of that time, choices must be made. I will just say that the movie is DIFFERENT from the novel and play. In both the movie and the novel, Duval's father pleads with her to "do the right thing." But the novel and play give a different reason, perhaps a better reason, for his pleading. The movie, despite setting up things nicely to go in the same direction, gives a much weaker excuse. Camille's sacrifice, therefore, doesn't seem as noble perhaps.

Love is anything but easy and comfortable in this black and white classic film.... I will say that this movie stars Laura Hope Crews as Prudence. I recognized her as dear old 'Aunt' Pittypat' from Gone With the Wind.

Moulin Rouge. Directed by Baz Luhrmann. 2001. 127 minutes. [Source: Own]

Like Camille, Moulin Rouge is about a Parisian courtesan falling in love for the first time. Another similarity is their tragic endings: both Camille and Satine die of consumption minutes after being reunited with their one true loves.

But the two films have little else in common. Moulin Rouge makes no apologies and doesn't pretty up the situation to make it classy or tasteful. Nothing subtle in this one....for better or worse.

Christian is the young man--the young writer--who falls in love with Satine quite by accident. These two do have their moments of pure happiness as they prepare for the big show. (She's the lead actress; he's the writer.) But fate intervenes in their happily ever after. The Duke is paying for the show and for HER. She is to be his exclusively. But more importantly, she is dying of consumption. Before Christian ever sings her one line, she is dying. Of course, she may not realize how short her time is. But the clues are there from the start.

What sets Moulin Rouge apart is its music. It is a musical. It is a one-of-a-kind musical in a way. I adore Ewan McGregor.

Is Moulin Rouge based on Dumas' Camille? Yes and no. It is based on Verdi's opera La Traviata. La Traviata is based on Dumas' Camille.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Mae Travels said...

Your reviews make it clear: these are movies that one should really see.

best... mae at

Mel u said...

My favorite Garbo movie is the set in Paris in the mid 1930s Ninotchka. It was filmed in Paris and the city is very much part of the movie. I have seen it numerous times and always love it. I also like Gigi a lot for its portrayal of the upper end deminmonde society.. thanks for your suggestions.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I need to see both of these. Thank you for sharing them both together.