Lady Oscar

dir. Jacques Demy

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Jacques Demy adapted the popular Japanese comic book Rose de Versailles for this flamboyant musical romance about a swashbuckling heroine who disguises herself as a man and ultimately serves as bodyguard to Marie Antoinette.

"A total delight: quite rare and imaginative, like Chanel-on-the-rocks" (San Francisco Film Festival). Shot in English, financed by Japanese producers and distributed by Toho, the improbably titled and extravagantly mounted Lady Oscar was based on the phenomenally popular Japanese manga Rose de Versailles, a sprawling, multi-volume tale of a girl raised as a boy who ends up as bodyguard to Marie Antoinette. Besotted with the swashbuckling heroine's flamboyant escapades, Demy transformed the strip into one of his beloved musical-romances: "I evolved the kind of picaresque structure I like best in cinema and which I already used in Lola and The Young Girls of Rochefort: a host of characters whose paths cross, diverge, reappear, diverge once more, and so on." Allowed to shoot in the gilded hallways, swank sanctums, and manicured gardens of Versailles, the director revels in the ancien régime luxe of it all: every second composition seems lifted from Watteau, and the grand perukes Demy lavishes on his porcelain-white actors would alone account for the budget of any other of his films. "A welcome return to the world that Demy has made uniquely his own.... Time and again, he creates sequences of pure magic" (David Meeker).