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Ehrengard (1982)

Wolfgang Cazotte, a famous, refined and charming court painter of the early 19th century, conceives an idea: to seduce Ehrengard, a young and fiery virgin, without touching her, but only ... See full summary »



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Cast overview:
Audrey Matson ...
The Grand Duchess
Alessandro Haber ...
Anita Laurenzi ...
Mrs. Poggendorf
Catherine Jarret ...
Countess von Gassner
Patrizia De Clara ...
Odino Artioli ...


Wolfgang Cazotte, a famous, refined and charming court painter of the early 19th century, conceives an idea: to seduce Ehrengard, a young and fiery virgin, without touching her, but only causing the blush of complicity to rise to her cheeks. In the end, after the painter's cunning is turned back upon him, everything will go for the best. Written by Adalberto Fornario

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4 July 2003 (Italy)  »

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Misses Out On Dinesen's Magic
2 April 2003 | by See all my reviews

Could the Danish fabulist Isak Dinesen be one of our Great Unfilmable Authors? This visually ravishing but dramatically turgid film of her posthumous novella suggests that she may well be. The mystery and eroticism of Dinesen's stories stem almost entirely from the subtle textures of her language. Cut one of her stories adrift from its text and you wind up with...well, Ehrengard. A film where almost nothing happens, and characters talk about the non-events at exhaustive length.

Granted, it all fails to happen in grand style. Its period setting - a tiny Mittel European court in the late 18th century - is realised to perfection, and Giuseppe Lanci's camerawork recreates the look and mood of paintings from that era. Jean-Pierre Cassel is both charming and sinister as an aging court painter who's obsessed with an androgynous young maiden. Audrey Matson - who spends one half of the film standing about demurely in period frocks, the other half charging about on horseback dressed as a man - is undeniably lovely, and her 'male' look may well have been copied for Tilda Swinton in Orlando. Yet her acting is not compelling enough to let us believe fully in either persona.

What we need in Ehrengard - and don't get - is a use of the camera thrilling enough to make up for the loss of Dinesen's words. It would take a greater film-maker than Emidio Greco to do that, and perhaps it's churlish to complain about a film that's so much closer to Dinesen than Sydney Pollack's overblown Out of Africa or Gabriel Axel's dreary Babette's Feast. Of that handful of directors who've been bold enough to tackle a Dinesen story, only Orson Welles (in his hour-long French TV film The Immortal Story) has come anywhere near the original magic. But then, Welles was something of a magician himself.

David Melville

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