Histoire immortelle

1968 [FRENCH]

Drama

2
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 92%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 71%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 2677

Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 24, 2021 at 12:01 PM

Director

Cast

Orson Welles as Mr. Charles Clay
Jeanne Moreau as Virginie Ducrot
Fernando Rey as Merchant telling Clay's history
720p.BLU
532.24 MB
1280*778
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
12 hr 58 min
P/S 1 / 18

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by alice liddell 8 / 10

Welles' genius enlivens stilted literary source material.

Initially, this film might seem dismayingly disappointing. Based on an Isak Dinesen novel, it appears not to transcend its literary origins. Narrative and dialogue are quoted verbatim (and often mumbled or too fast) to accompanying pictures. The pacing is very slow for a Welles film, with little of his trademark, disruptive editing. The symbolism seems literary, rather than cinematic.

And yet the film is, under this surface, recognisably Wellesian - the old man who has amassed great wealth at the expense of an emotional life, who seeks to control others; the use of storytelling as a metaphor; the idea of the author as a repressive God, who makes his characters conform to his will; the subsequent destruction of the author who uses his power to repress, not express, or create, who does not realise that making a story 'real', in the fatuous hope for immortality, can only mean that the author becomes superfluous; the loyal assistant/friend whose life has been emotionally deadened by the need to serve (and suppress moral qualms about) the great man; the tone of the film, nocturnal, quiet, still, cicadas resounding, suffused with sterility and death.

Even the look of the film, seemingly precious and over-formal, is quietly Wellesian (no, not an oxymoron!) - the use of locale as a private labyrinth (there is very little of the Orient here, in spite of attempts at local colour - its anguish is very European and decadent); the idea of the dark, fettered house as a figure for the mind or the soul; the use of found locations, especially old buildings, suggesting older, better, nobler days, also irremovable reminders of decline; the restrained bursts of disruptive editing in the elegant design; the deep-focus long-shots form distorted angles, revealing characters to be mere pawns, geometric shapes in a total, hostile design; the idea of the film being the final dream of a dying man. There is also, in Welles' first non-black-and-white film, a gorgeous use of deep colours.

The thrust of the film remains too literary to be a total success, but it is exquisitely beautiful and mournful. All three characters are locked in typical Wellesian solipsism, all are alone, creating myths and stories to cover up the truth of their own failure to shore against the ruins. The thwarted possibility of escape only makes the entrapment all the more suffocating. And yet, there is an otherworldly quality to the central bedroom sequence, aided by Jeanne Moreau's astonishing performance, that raises the film into the realm of the magical. The rarefied atmosphere of the film is thus entirely appropriate.

Reviewed by Quinoa1984 8 / 10

a minor work from Welles that contains a lot under the surface, and a superb Moreau

If it weren't for popping up once on TCM and by chance getting to tape it, I'm not sure if I would ever see the Immortal Story due to its lack of circulation. Not too ironic, or a coincidence more likely, to what the film is about. In line with a couple of Welles's other works like Mr. Arkadin and F For Fake, The Immortal Story is about storytelling, or how extraordinary things that happen are sometimes less so when taken into account for what's really underneath them- the person telling it, or being told it, and if it really makes sense or sounds like it isn't b.s.

Welles's character Mr. Clay, taken from a novel by Isak Denison, probably doesn't have any good stories to tell, and more than likely doesn't like hearing them. "I don't like pretense, and I don't like prophecy. I want facts," he says to his butler/servant Levinsky (Robert Croggio), and after so much time hearing his company's accounts and finances- a very empty task for a codger like Clay to hear- he decides on something that might get the juices going in his head, to make real a story that's been told many many times, about the sailor getting paid by some rich man to sleep with his wife. It isn't 'Indecent Proposal', however, as Moreau's character happens to be in her own was as notorious as Clay, and has a history of sorts with Clay and her family.

Matter of fact, the main thrust of Immortal Story is that stories are never fool-proof, and that's what makes them interesting/fun to those who hear them for years and years; it can't *really* happen, otherwise there's a falsity that defeats the whole purpose of it being spontaneous. So, a lot ends up being more fascinating for what is in the subtext this time, even if I still loved looking at Welles's direction, which is always an incredible feat of ingenuity, not to mention here when it's mostly talking heads. He uses color very well here, too, as it's his first time using shades of brown and gray for the Macao town parts, little flourishes of color that become darkened when around Clay, and the characters of Virginie (Moreau) and the Sailor (Norman Eshley) who compared to Clay are vibrant in appearance.

Much of the dialog is exquisite and unlike in some of Welles's other works not exactly dense and rapid-fire in taking it all in. There's even an elegiac tone going on here, as Clay is far from a Kane or Sheriff in Touch of Evil- he's dying, really, or at least mad, and there's a loneliness to his 'what-I-say-will-be-done' manner of speaking to his servant. Welles taps into that completely, even if it takes a little getting used to over the hour-long running time.

The other actors are hit or miss, however, with Moreau being the clear top choice in this field. With still some of those same melancholy beats she had when she appeared in French New Wave pictures, she taps into Virgine as someone who's more complex (albeit in small part my plot convenience, oddly enough) than someone like Clay would've thought in his factual-type realm. The facts for her make things awful to bear, even under payment, and Moreau also gets to reveal a deep level of sexuality that gives Welles another challenge never done before for him- how to handle a sex scene (this includes a great exchange of dialog between Virgine and Paul about an earthquake).

The men, however, are a little more shaky. Coggio isn't bad as Levinsky, but by nature of his character he has to be a stiff kind of guy, and sometimes it works well (his reaction to Clay's demand to re-enact this 'story' is very good), and sometimes not (his delivery of the lines, which aren't well-written, at the very end is unbelievable). I also found Eshly to be like an extra Welles might've picked up from Fellini's production of Satyricon with the pretty-boy men, this time with an awkward English accent. Only when looking at him under the surface did things seem a little intriguing, but on the surface ineffectual.

But for the patient Welles fan- yes, patient even at 62 minutes- The Immortal Story puts another good notch on the filmmaker/actor's club of of work. It deals with a subject that I could think and rouse about for hours, about what it is to live a life where things aren't predictable, or when things are mandated and put in rigid structure what it means to want to find why a story isn't made true or not. Why does Clay want the story to be real, and for only one person to say that it's for real or not? The final revelation from the sailor, of course, brilliantly contradicts everything that came before. Facts (or rather, the usual exposition), of course, aren't usually the best parts of any story, as any filmmaker can tell you.

Reviewed by notpyrkfonos 9 / 10

A lonely old man wants to bring a story he has heard to life.

I just saw The Immortal story for the first time today thanks to TCM. I was impressed by the otherworldly quality of the film. Reading through the IMDb reviews I was surprised that no one speculated as to why Wells chose this story. To me the answer seems obvious. The film is about a lonely old man who wants to bring a story he has heard to life. He knows that he cannot accomplish the task alone so he turns to a minion in his employ to arrange the set piece and hire the players. Ironically even when he succeeds, it becomes clear that no one will ever hear the recounting of the story.

This is how Wells probably viewed his own life. ​Throughout his film career he struggled unhappily with his dependence on the help of producers and his need to control actors in order to bring his artistic visions to life. Sadly, even on the few occasions when he successfully got films completed, to him it seemed as if he never really had an audience.

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