This fine, often bizarre, historical drama begins with a basis in fact and runs wild with imaginative possibilities. King Louis XVI (Michel Piccoli) and his queen (Eleonore Hirt) flee Paris for the safety of Varennes at the height of the French Revolution. Close behind in a pursuing coach,
bickering about life and politics, are Casanova (Marcello Mastroianni, in an excellent performance) and American revolutionary Thomas Paine (Harvey Keitel). All the while, the revolution spreads like wildfire. As with other recent films by Italian director Ettore Scola--LE BAL, MACARONI, THE
FAMILY--the exploration of the past becomes a vehicle for understanding today's problems and those of the future.
Besides the benefits of the lush photography and elegant costumes, Scola again works with an excellent cast that reads as a virtual Who's Who of European cinema, including Jean-Louis Barrault, Hanna Schygulla, Jean-Claude Brialy, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Andrea Ferreol and Daniel Gelin. A feast of
a film in many ways.
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