Though not as boisterous or even as technically competent as his surrealist contemporaries, novice filmmaker d’Ursel has created a subtly subversive objet d’art here, seducing the viewer with a tale both dreamlike and realistic. The film creates a rhyme with spheres and circles (hot air balloons, wheels and tears), all evocative of the object in question. Kissa Kouprine, in the role of the thieving fiancée, imbues the film with a muted eroticism, not dissimilar to French cult actress Musidora who was known for portraying duplicitous villainesses. The film’s major weakness comes in its impatient pacing: at times we race through scenes, at others we might as well be sleepwalking ourselves.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
The first and only film created by count Henri d’Ursel, The Pearl opens with a Méliès-style sequence of a diver retrieving a pearl from the seabed. It is this gemstone that becomes so sought-after throughout the film, as our unnamed protagonist seeks to procure a pearl necklace as a gift for his fiancée. When he breaks the necklace in a bike accident, his expressionless fiancée tucks a loose pearl into her stocking, leading our hero to chase her through the woods, eventually strangling her and removing an oversized pearl from her mouth. As he washes the necklace in a stream, blood appears on his hands. The man regains consciousness again, his hands now clean, and he leaves the woods for a hotel, where he finds his fiancée creeping from room to room as a thief. A somnambulist roams the rooftops.