Lola Montès ★★★★★

The finest of Ophuls' films - the greatest and most profound film on the subject of spectacle. Spectacle turns life literally into a kaleidoscopic circus, furthermore womanhood into a false circus, all of life's memories into a grotesque parade and we see that spectacle by nature can only be a twisted commodified version of life. It's a relevant film...because Lola tries eventually to use her objectification to her advantage...even the seemingly most decent of men end up forcing her into their own codifications -so she turns herself into spectacle in revolt, only at the end to realize that spectacle is forever a cage. Lola is genuine, honest, forceful and willful - her revolt against the oppression cast upon the entire history of her gender is to consent to be the object of gaze, in order to assert herself as subject. The final carriage sequence with Werner then is both her realization and her final gasp of air - to reassert ones self as subject through objectification is little more than a trick into re-victimization: this both clarifies and re-contextualizes the circus sequences. While the disparity between what is said in the circus and what is seen in the memory is clear from the beginning, on repeat viewing this has the addition of pure torture. Spectacle then, is little more than a trick whereupon what one thinks subject is actually object, and what one thinks object is actually subject. By this reversal, the true and inescapable nature of spectacle is exploitation - spectacle cannot be reclaimed or reappropriated...why should it be if it's basis is a trick? One of the greatest masterpieces, a true tragedy.

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