Title: Time Regained

Release Date:  2000

Nationality and Language: France

Running time: about 160 Minutes

MPAA Rating:  R

Distributor and Production Company:  Kino International (Germany)

Director; Writer:Raoul Ruiz, Pabloc Branco


Cast:   Marcello Mazzarella (as the narrator and as Marcel Proust), John Malkovich (as Charlus), Vincent Perez (as Morel), Andre Engel (as Marcel), Catherine Denevue (as Odette),

Technical:  1.6. to 1; Dolby

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Review: (2000) (“Le Temps Retrouve′”), a film by Raoul Ruiz and Pablo Branco, starring Marcello Mazzarella (as the narrator and as Marcel Proust), John Malkovich (as Charlus), Vincent Perez (as Morel), Andre Engel (as Marcel), Catherine Denevue (as Odette), 160 Minutes, from Kino International, not rated but probably a soft “R.”  This film purports to be a historical epic from the point of view of a famous writer, that is, Marcel Proust, so it may be a bit like a “Do Ask Do Tell” film, but it seems a bit focused on what comes across as a rather confined, almost unifocal life in the upper classes of French society through the end of World War I. His episodic story is narrated from his deathbed (you might say, dictated, as this occurs well before the days of word processors), a device that would give the film a self-indulgent quality if not reversed by some unusual social or political message underneath.  Furthermore, the film moves back and forth in time with fade-ins, which gives Proust’s life a kind of privileged, monolithic appearance, rather than one which responded to the tumultuous European history around him.  The main concerns seem to be sexual and romantic obsession and fidelity, and perhaps the gradations of romance in situations where it does not require overt sexual fulfillment—and, of course, a frank bisexuality.  There is one episode in a rooming house where soldiers bunk during bombing raids and engage in some gay sadomasochism—an apparent commentary that homosexuality is common (and inevitable) in militaries throughout history, but hardly surprising when compared to today’s controversy over the issue in the United States. There is also some subtle dialogue about Proust’s concerns over whether his understated homosexual interests were acceptable to others. The subtitles do not translate very literally, and fluency in French (as well as detailed knowledge of European history) may help the viewer get more out of the film. Indeed, I saw this film with a largely academic audience at a University of Minnesota film series.

            The set designs for the film are quite marvelous, and the photography garish and detailed, in a manner that recalls the old VistaVision process. But I really wanted to see more of the history—even more of the black-and-white World War I news clips (and kaleidoscopes).  Life could be fulfilling for the “rich” in those days with older technology—you didn’t need a stand-up video bar if you had live pianists and string quartets.  The background music is rather intriguing, conveying a sense of mystery with impressionism (I believe there were quotes from Debussy’s Images, Jeux, and Ravel’s violin sonata, but I’ll have to check this in my own CD collection later).  It makes an interesting comparison to Maurice Jarre’s more extroverted score for Sunshine, with its unabashed deference to Viennese romanticism.


Related reviews: Sunshine


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