Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Robert Lloyd and Elizabeth Laurence 
DUKE BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE (1988). Director: Leslie Megahey.

The Bluebeard theme has been used in dozens of books, plays, and movies [Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons, for instance] but it also was the subject of an opera by Bela Bartok, the 20th century masterpiece Duke Bluebeard's Castle. In this film adaptation, Judith (Elizabeth Laurence) comes to Bluebeard's (Robert Lloyd) castle and wants to learn all of his and the castle's secrets. Although Bluebeard warns her not to, Judith goes poking about (like a heroine in a Roger Corman Poe film) opening doors, and discovers things she's rather not have seen until the ultimate secret, and her final fate, are revealed. This film not only offers wonderful music and singing, but is quite visually impressive: white tiles dripping blood; a pool and glittering jewels, the floor of the castle opening to dramatically reveal Bluebeard's whole kingdom beneath Judith's feet; and the bodies of Bluebeard's former wives on display like silent statues in a hidden chamber. This is a very striking, well-sung, and effective film version of Bartok's opera.

Verdict: Very arresting. ***.

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