Two women love the same man in a world of few prospects. In Budapest, Liliom is a "public figure," a rascal who's a carousel barker, loved by the experienced merry-go-round owner and by a ...
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Two women love the same man in a world of few prospects. In Budapest, Liliom is a "public figure," a rascal who's a carousel barker, loved by the experienced merry-go-round owner and by a young, innocent maid. The maid, Julie, loses her job after going out with Liliom; he's fired by his jealous employer for going out with Julie. The two lovers move in with Julie's aunt; unemployment emasculates him and a local weasel tempts him with crime. Julie, now wan, is true to Liliom even in his bad temper. Meanwhile, a stolid widower, a carpenter, wants to marry Julie. Is there any future on this earth for Julie and Liliom, whose love is passionate rather than ideal? Written by
Liliom is not a masterpiece of cinema, but not a terrible movie. Moreover, could he be considered as such, knowing that Fritz Lang is also the author of the unavoidable classics such as Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927) and M (Fritz Lang, 1931)? There is doubt, but Liliom is no more or less than the account of a proud man who believes himself strong and who breaks the heart of his wife and who pays the price. It is a story based on the moral sense of a young man and the viewer is reflected in the message of the film. As for example in these famous situations of life where a little angel is on our right shoulder that dictates what is good to do and a little devil on the left shoulder trying to tempt us to succumb to our vices. Liliom, meanwhile, is vicious and manipulative, but he has necessarily good in him.This feature is fortunately not that a beast series of annoying scenes. The film opens on a noisy stage, or a thundering music tries to surpass the cries of Liliom and extras. The rather jerky assembly of this sequence combined with the avalanche of decibels is at least a sign of activity that is imposed on us from the first minutes. Moreover, we witness a battle scene where the noise stops completely for a minute when Liliom and his colleague of the circus look at each other intensely. This unfortunately too short sequence could have been much more impressive but the viewer is left hungry. The rhythm of the film slowed down enormously thereafter. Some shots without music are much too long, allowing us to appreciate the soft sound of the film in the beginning of the talk, but also to fall asleep. We are very far from the style to the Charlie Chaplin, where the action happens very quickly and where the gags are connected without respite. No, Liliom, he takes his time. It does not prevent that the film is played by very good actors. All the replies of Charles Boyer are sublime, every time his character opens his mouth, we want to laugh out loud. Liliom may well be arrogant and we hate him a little because of this, but we find each of the exchanges he makes with the characters more or less secondary very entertaining. Madeleine Ozeray and Florelle both perform a convincing performance, despite a game a bit too stretched. But the character of the commissioner is absolutely sublime. We love him so much in the role of the commissioner as in that of the angel who judges.We can also note the strangeness of the music of the film. Insupportable circus music comes back at several moments, even during certain dramatic scenes where the atmosphere is heavy. Unfortunately this contrast only brings confusion to the viewer. Music completely opposite to the emotion created by the characters playing on the screen has no effect. The part that follows the death of Liliom is probably the most interesting. The spectator finds himself abruptly light-years away from what he has seen until now. The film turns to the real fanciful comedy when the main character resurrects and is transported to heaven by two men dressed perfectly shadows of blacks with a complexion white as snow and that he is judged by an angel. In this sequence, we have the confirmation that the film is not serious, but the scene breaks the monotony whose film has appeared since the beginning and the spectator, suddenly, comes out of its passive state. We see the arrival of new characters, the film changes costumes and sets and the dramatic tone before disappears to give way to a much lighter tone, until the end. Liliom deserves to be seen, but not to the point of being a classic. The moviegoers will find their account there for sure.
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