Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

A review of this movie on this blog seems almost as ridiculous as putting up a poll asking if Sir Percy is heroic.  But since, when I first watched it, some of my followers (thank you, dears) were kind enough to ask for a review and since this is a blog where we get to talk as much as we like about the Scarlet Pimpernel, I thought I would post it.

See, I can always find good excuses for something I want to do.


One thing I really liked about this movie is that it shows Percy and Marguerite before they're married.  We get to see Marguerite as an actress and what Percy is doing in France.  The plot superbly blends The Scarlet Pimpernel and El Dorado and has the best of both. 
My little sister looked at a picture of
Percy and groaned, "Not that ugly guy
again."  I'm still wondering how she
could think that.  But then again, she
hasn't watched this movie. 
Casting: The first thing we talk about is obviously our dear hero himself, or as my little sister calls him, 'Sir Percy Sink-me'.  Anthony Andrews is absolutely a.m.a.z.i.n.g. in the role. He delivers Percy's witty banter perfectly and teases Chauvelin crazy. Oh wait, Chauvelin is crazy already.  More crazy, then. :P  Words aren't enough to describe the chemistry between him and Marguerite.  Just beautiful...  He balances the fop and the hero perfectly, and you end up falling in love with both.  On top of that, his looks are exactly what they should be (talk about understatement!), and he is SPOILER ALERT an amazing, amazing, amazing fencer.  The greatest thing I have against the musical is that he lost the duel.  That just would never happen and it's delighfully evident in this movie. END OF SPOILER.  And, as Abby pointed out, the first names of the two members of the league we hear about are Anthony and Andrew.  It's like Anthony Andrews has an absolute right to the role.  (Well, he does. :))  And that thing with Percy's eyes (especially mentioned in the short stories) happens with Anthony Andrews too.  The fact that his eyes are brown instead of blue is beside the point.  I like brown eyes.

Jane Seymour is drop-dead gorgeous as Marguerite.  She captures Marguerite better than I thought anyone ever could and the chemistry between her and Percy is just beautiful. Oh wait, did I say that already?  Well, it bears repeating.

I know I did say once that Marguerite has to have the golden-auburn hair that Baroness Orczy said, but I take it all back.  Anthony Andrews is the absolute best Percy and Jane Seymour is the absolute best co-starring with him, therefore Jane Seymour is the absolute best Marguerite.  Dark hair and all.  Don't I have interesting powers of reasoning? ;P

After Sir Percy and Marguerite we come of course to The Wily Little Fox, also known as Chauvelin.  Ian McKellan is everything that he should be and more besides.  It was a stroke of genius to have him be in love with Marguerite too.  Something like it was mentioned in El Dorado with Marguerite's cousin, and they've taken it one step further.  It heightens the rivalry between Sir Percy and Chauvelin.  It gives Chauvelin ample reasons for wanting to do what he does.  This guy is an enemy of his country, teases him unmercifully, stands in the way of his seat on the committee of something-something-or-other and waltzes off with Marguerite.  Almost makes you feel sorry for him.  Don't worry, I did say almost.  Not quite.

Now, I guess I come to what I don't like.  In one word, Armand.  Wait, I do like him *pretends to not notice the shocked silence of everyone reading this* but with the authority of this movie you could be justified in hating him.  But then, it would have taken a lot of screen time to properly devolop Armand and more Armand would mean less Percy. And that would be a tragedy.
One little warning: there are two scenes that strongly suggest that Armand and his fiancee are living together without being married.  Unfortunate (why does there have to be an inappropriate scene put into every movie with more than its share of amazingness?), but then, what's a fast-forward button for?
 Other than that, there's an unfortunate bit of language. Squeamish me was quite pleased with the lack of violence in this movie.  You see enough to know what the League is saving people from, but not enough for it to be really gruesome.
Percy's cravat is absolutley gorgeous
in this scene and so is his hat and his coat. 
You don't even want to get me
started on his cape.  I think of
this scene as 'The
Scene Where Percy Has A Cape.'
One of the absolutely most amazing dresses.
The costume design is amazing.  Aside from being visually gorgeous, the costumes suit each character perfectly.  And they have cravats! And boots!  And gorgeously lacy cuffs!  I think late eighteenth centry fashion is my favorite.  Period.  Just imagine going around in one of Marguerite's dresses.  Wait, no.  Not the pink one.  I do not like the pink one.  And if you could just make the neckline a little higher?  Thank you.  Now I'm gorgeously, shamelessly happy.

The soundtrack is also quite lovely.  I can't describe it, but you'll hear it when you watch it soon.  You are going to watch it soon, aren't you? *inserts stern glare.*  The cinemeatography isn't is good as it could be, but considering that it was shot in the 80s, it's better than some more modern films I've seen. 

"With this ring I thee wed.  With my body I thee worship.
With all my worldly goods I thee endow."
The wedding scene is one of my very favorite scenes.  Hearing Percy and Marguerite say their vows is so. beautiful.  Anybody who wants to make a really romantic movie should have a wedding scene like this one.  Forget the kiss on the moonlit balcony.  This is amazing.
"I shall be back, my dear M. Chauvelin.  I shall return - to haunt you."
He does look a little sick at the idea.  :P
Madame de Tournay: God bless the Scarlet Pimpernel,
whomever he may be. Surely he must be an angel in disguise!
Percy: (sniffs) Amen
I will love her till the day I die.  That is the tragedy.
The man I fell in love with still exists somewhere. 
I shall never stop loving him.

I take it you approve of this movie?
Approval, sir, in my opinion, demands the attainment of (very nearly) perfection.
Do I approve of it?  Oh yes!


Natasha Marie said...

I just watched this movie again today and I absolutely, without a doubt approve!! =D

The way they combined The Scarlet Pimpernel and Eldorado was so perfect.
The costumes are completely gorgeous - I love Marguerite's hat so much!
That's my favorite Sir Percy outfit, too:)

And I will stop right now before I go any further, because if I go on I may very well never stop. ;)


Alexandra said...

Sigh. I am so happy. :-D

Um. Anthony Andrews *is* Sir Percy!!! The description in the book is SOOOO completely Anthony Andrews it's...just, yeah. Like he was custom made for the role. 'Cept the blue eyes, I know, but Percy with blue eyes seems almost wrong. Besides, this movie is what convinced me that blue eyes are not the only incredible eye color in the world. So I vote brown-eyed Percy every time. Anyway. He is so incredible in this role (and he's one of those amazing actors who can just stand there and act completely with their eyes, which I think is amazing. Anyway). And this film is also what shot him up to the top of Favorite Amazing Actors. So yeah, definitely my favorite of his roles.

And the cape-n-hat is the most epic outfit EVER. The way it swiiissshhes heroically when he walks...just screams superhero.

Speaking of that...I read somewhere that Sir Percy is what inspired the alter-ego superhero idea....Clark Kent/Superman, etc., you know. I think that's cool. Anyway.

And Jane Seymour just so completely personified Marguerite that you forget that she's not auburn. And personally believing that she's one of if not the most gorgeous actress I've ever seen, that just seems natural to cast her in a role where Baroness Orczy comments on Marguerite's beauty every other sentence.

And the chemistry between them is, just as you said, just beautiful. Percy and Marguerite are supposed to be soooo in love, just like, each is the other's world...Percy almost literally worships the ground she walks on...and they totally bring that across. The heartbreak they both have when they can't trust each other...the beautiful love when they get back together...the prison scene...SNIFF. My FAVORITE scene period. :-)

I *love* the fact that they added the romantic angle between Chauvelin and Marguerite. It really adds soooo much, like you said. And Ian McKellan is amazing as Chauvelin.

I hate Armand anyway (and yes, this is what made me hate him can you not hate when know...did what he did to Percy????) :-) So yeah.

The quotes you put in there...shivers. :-D Sigh. All that.

SO yes. Um! I quite approve. I have two very-favorite-movies on the planet (because I'm indecisive like that) and this is one of the two. I love this film more than I can say. And I just *love* being able to share it with others! :-) 10+ stars on your review! Couldn't have said it better! :-)

Alexandra said...

Oh, yes, and you're totally *perfectly* blends the best of both the first book and El Dorado (only I wouldn't have minded if the prison scene was closer to the book...but that's just the super-drama-lovin' me...not complaining. :-D). And I love seeing the falling-in-love backstory...really adds to the contrast of when they met/after their married, and you can really understand Marguerite's frustration and hurt at Percy's sudden change.

*And* this film is what introduced me to Sir Percy and the epicness that is all of TSP, sooooooo being the fan that I am...this is close to my heart. The end. :-)

Miss Dashwood said...

Sigh. Swoon. Melt.
I'm currently re-watching this on YouTube in parts each night while I exercise and I am Falling In Love All Over Again.

Your poor, blind little sister. She must be taught the error of her ways with all possible speed!! ;)
When you said you liked brown eyes, I instantly thought of Meg in Little Women, heehee.

Chauvelin becomes so much MORE of a character when he has, y'know, a backstory. I really do feel sorry for him. *ducks tomatoes* No, really, I do. I mean, the poor guy is up against SIR PERCIVAL BLAKENEY. He doesn't have a prayer of winning. Especially during the duel scene. What did he think he was doing, crossing swords with Armand or somebody equally wimpy??

Oh, yes, and I don't like Armand either. The very idea of disobeying Percy's orders. Bleck. Unfaithful idiot. Of course, it's admirable that he wanted to rescue Louise and blah blah blah, but if Marguerite had been in danger and Percy wanted to rescue her, he would have done it a) without disobeying orders and b) without putting anyone else's life in danger.

Grrr, Armand.

Um, anyway. Yes, the costumes are phenomenal (except for the necklines, o' course) and Percy's hat and cape are nothing short of Awe-Inspiring. And you know that part that I'm not going to be explicit about because I don't wanna spoil the story--but it's the part where he uses the cape to incapacitate one of The Bad Guys? I squealed when that happened. Yes, I did.

The soundtrack... ahhhhhh. It's heroic, that's the best word I can think of to describe it. Stirring. Passionate. Into the fire. :)

Hahaha, the picture of Chauvelin looking sick at the idea of a Percy ghost. Made my day!

Marguerite and Percy are THE PERFECT COUPLE. Sigh. Oh yes, indeed.

Miss Dashwood said...

Oh... and for the record, I say you should put up a poll asking if Sir Percy is heroic, just to see what would happen. ;)

Alexandra said...

Oooh, yes, you should! :-P I think we might crash Blogger with the number of votes coming in on that poll. :-P

And yes, I was going to say...your poor little sister! :-D Sigh.

And Armand is a no good, very bad boy. And should have been guillotined at least. The end. Percy would have never have done that.

And Miss Dashwood...I *so* agree about that-scene-with-the-cape!!!!!! :-)

Miss Dashwood said...

Alexandra, you would guillotine Armand, would you??? Because then Percy would have to risk his life all over again to save Armand (again!).
Haha, did you ever read Judith Viorst's children's book Alexander and the Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day? Because that's when I thought of when I read your comment about how awful Armand is. :P
That scene with the cape. Ahhhhhhh.

Hayden said...

Where do you find all these great screen captures? I have such a hard time finding good Scarlet Pimpernel pics... :(

Alexandra said...

Miss Dashwood - Oh, that's right...he would. Maaaan. Ok, then he can get shot. Quick, and not enough time for Percy to get there. (nod)

And yes, ever since I read that book, whenever I start to say something is horrible, my mind just adds "no good, very bad..." yup, yup. :-D

Yes, I would like to know about the screencaps, too! I usually just make mine myself, but it would be so much easier in a pinch to not have to drag the DVD out and find the spot I want a cap of...mainly because I usually get sidetracked watching the movie...*cough, cough*

Maria Elisabeth said...

I've read that about Sir Percy inspired the alter-ego superman idea too and I think they're sort of ripoffs. Besides, when you compare the real heroicness of the original to all the ripoffs. Yup. And that prison scene, as in El Dorado is heartbreaking. Not as good in the movie as in the book, but in the movie Chauvelin didn't have quite as many Villainous Ideas and when I read the book I actually thought Percy might die. Sob.

Miss Dashwood,
For the record, the little sister likes Chauvelin. I still don't know how that can happen. I do almost feel sorry for Chauvelin too. In A Certain Twist Ending, it was absolutely obvious right from the start that Percy would win. Sorry, Chauvelin.

As to the brown eyes, I had Meg March in the back of my mind when I wrote that. And I was thinking of a certain individual, a certain literary individul, of course.

And as to the poll, that would actually be pretty funny. If someone dares to vote no, well, I pity them.

Most of these I got from my personal collection that I made one afternoon when I wanted an excuse to watch it. But my collection is running low, and since the DVD is from the library, I can't put it in whenever I like, unfortunately. Here's a website with a few screencaps and stuff about the actors too! *waits to hear Alexandra's squeal*

All You Armand-Haters
I would answer you very, very, very soon, but my brother wants the computer, so I guess I'll have to wait. :(

Maria Elisabeth said...

All you Armand haters,

Let me try to excuse the Inexcusable. First of all, don't compare Armand with Blakeney. Any literary character would come off badly. *Searches hastily in favorite heroes list.* Even Sydney Carton, much as I like him, has quite a bit of Armand's impetuousness and might act like him if Lucie was in danger.

As to what he did to Percy, it was hateful, horrible, dishonorable, treacherous, contemptible and whatever else the thesaurus might suggest. All I have to say is that Percy did forgive him.

A death on the guillotine (or being shot, whichever you prefer) would be less of a punishment to Armand then what he feels afterwards.

'But meseems that the hell which you are enduring now is ten thousand times worse than mine. I have heard your furtive footsteps in the corridor outside the grated window of this cell, and would not then have exchanged my hell for yours.'

Oh, Armand. I can't hate him, and yet I can't defend him. Idealists are problematic. :( 'As Marguerite said, "I wish you had not so many lofty virtues. Little sins are far less dangerous and uncomfortable." While the moral truth of that is more than doubtful and even I don't think Armand has very many lofty virtues, she has a point. Every bad thing Armand does comes from a good motive. A selfish feeling like cowardice would have made a lot less trouble.

And Miss Dashwood, to steal your words, you're putting the poor guy up against SIR PERCY BLAKENEY! He doesn't have a chance of a good opinion. If Percy was in such a situation be would manage to save Marguerite without risking anyone else’s life, but he doesn’t even have a chance to disobey orders, because he never has any.

Oh wait, did I imply nearly heresy? Maybe I should keep my mouth shut. :P

Maria Elisabeth said...

But Armand as he is in this movie, that I do not like. His personality is changed and he isn't even properly remorseful. I'm almost surprised Sir Percy stood for it. Shame on him.

Alexandra said...

Thanks for the link! (I squeal)

Great comment about Armand. And I guess you're right...I LOOOOOOVE that quote, btw, about the hell he's in. Sigh. Anyhooz.

And when I think about it, I think it has more to do with the Armand in the movie (which you have to remember was my first exposure to Armand, and the horridness he is in there, and the way he betrays Percy, and as you said, isn't even properly remorseful, and so it taints the book Armand for me). But yes, you are right. I give it to you there. :-)

And I will overlook your heresy. This time. :-P

Maria Elisabeth said...

I actually did put up the poll. I wonder what the followers will think when they see that. :P It is prodigiously near to heresy to even put the 'no' option in there.

Miss Dashwood said...

Hahaha, I suppose the poll's possible answers should really have been, "yes," "yes," "yes," and "who's Sir Percy? I don't know yet, but YES."


The Looney Writer said...

I love this movie too! It was amazing! Does anybody else find it rather disgusting how almost every time he and Marguerite are alone, Chauvelin starts chewing on her neck? Yes, I know he isn't really, but it looks like it.

I❤Blue! said...

I've heard that there are prostitutes in this version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, is this true? Any input, especially as to when this happens in the movie would be great! Thanks!


Klara said...

45 days ago I had never read a Scarlet Pimpernel book and today I'm more in love with Sir Percy Blakeney than I have ever been in love with any other hero from a book or a movie! I'm currently reading my 8th SP book (Mam'zelle Guillotine) and thanks to your blog (which I stumbled upon a few days ago) I also found and watched the 1982 movie tonight. I loved the books (The Scarlet Pimpernel and El Dorado) heaps better, (isn't that always the case) but the movie really did surprise me by how good it was!! Thanks for sharing the love :)