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Les Folies Offenbach: a masterpiece in every aspect
Not only the cast includes many of the best actors in France, including some of the famed "Comédie-Française"; not only Michel Serrault gives a unique performance, undoubtedly one of the best in his rich and varied career; not only the costumes and settings are wonderful; not only the unforgettable music is so skilfully dealt with that you cannot say what is Offenbach's and what is Laurent Petitgirault's. But this lovely evocation of the French Second Empire is based on a solid documentation work. To such extent, that reading (after watching the movies) "Jacques Offenbach, mon grand- père", a book of souvenirs, I found a picture of Offenbach, aged about 40, and said: "oh, they have pictures from the movie!"; oh no; the book was published in the thirties! It happened again with other books. Because the movie was perfect, to the tiniest detail. The numerous anecdotes are ALL well-documented (the story of the barber, for instance; Hortense's nicknames; the entrance to "Exposition Universelle" with "I'm the Grand-duchess of Gerolstein", and so many more) are all attested by documents of the time. It is very funny, when you read books about 2nd Empire after that: you cannot help thinking that you KNOW the people they talk about. Because you met them in the movie... I can only say one thing more: this extraordinary document had no great success. It was never programmed again. In my family (all Offenbach's lovers) we treasured the tapes one of us was clever enough to record, copied them to tapes, now to DVD, and watch them... at least three or four times a year! That is what TV could be - should be - and what French TV is no longer. If you are lucky enough to get "Folies Offenbach", treasure it!
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