Lola Montes

2701. LOLA MONTES (1955-France/Germany). COLOR. With MARTINE CAROL, PETER USTINOV, ANTON WALBROOK, OSKAR WERNER, IVAN DESNV. Directed by MAX OPHULS. This extravagant all-time classic drama has long been a staple on critics’ lists of the greatest movies ever made. It is not only the final film directed by the fabled German-born director Max Ophuls, but it just very well may be his masterpiece. The scenario opens with the title character being introduced by the ringmaster of a circus, where she is on display before a crude and impressionable audience. Lola is a fabled 19th-century dancer-adventuress-courtesan, and what follows is the story (told in flashback) of her various romantic liaisons with an assortment of men. Her lovers run the gamut from a bashful young student to King Ludwig of Bavaria to the composer Franz Liszt, The resulting drama is at once subtle and profound, with the scenario examining a variety of themes relating to the eternal quest for love. As Lola moves through her relationships, Ophuls depicts how desire and bliss may be experienced without feelings of love and how love can exist as a one-sided emotion, without reciprocation. Indeed, even when love does exist, it is fated to die. As Lola the circus attraction is contrasted to the Lola of years past, Ophuls contemplates the fleeting nature of celebrity and physical beauty. The film is a visual smorgasbordĂ‘a thoroughly ravishing feast for the eyes that is crammed with eye-popping imagery and graceful camera movements. If ever a film director painted with his camera, it is Max Ophuls. Surely, this film is his Mona Lisa. Highly recommended. In French with English subtitles. Shadowboxed. 110 minutes. Drama