1-World Festival of Foreign Films
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"Le Bal"
1982
Directed by Ettore Scola

Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film of 1983 and winner of three Cesars (The French "Oscar"), Ettore Scola's Le Bal is one of the great rarities of world cinema.

US critics were dazzled by its grace and charm.  Among them, Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who called the film a "dreamlike extravaganza."  And Judith Crist/WOR-TV, "...one of the most memorable movies...in years."  Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times appropriately hailed it as "A Chorus Line of everyday people."

Le Bal takes place in a hypothetical Parisian dance hall and its plot communicated entirely through mime, its pop music soundtrack and period ballroom dances.  The prologue section, set in present time, introduces us to the cast of characters.  Then, the hall lights go on.  The couples pair off.  the music begins.  And in a series of flashback sequences that use key moments in modern French history as their backdrop, we are presented with a clever yet poignant social commentary of prewar, postwar and modern times.

In seven vignettes, the dance hall and its customers are seen as  the focal points for the whirlwind of political and social change sweeping French culture in the five decades from the '30s to the present.  As expressed through the music, social mores and dress of each era, the cast irresistibly conveys a more universal theme - modern man's never-ending search for love and an end to loneliness.

Based on the popular theatrical production which was created for the French Theatre du Campagnol, Le Bal was adapted for the screen by co-writer/director Ettore Scola, whose best-known films include the highly regarded La Nuit de Varennes and A Special Day.  Le Bal won Scola the coveted Silver Bear Award for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival.

 


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