Monday, June 9, 2008

The Great Ordeal

Author(s): Chris M.
Location: NJ

"The Great Ordeal"

Miramax Films
Produced by Saul Zaentz
Directed by Shekhar Kapur
Adapted by Julian Fellowes
Cinematography by John Toll
Film Editing by Steven Rosenbaum
Costume by Ann Roth
Art Direction by Steven Lawerence
Set Direction by Jill Quertier
Original Score by Patrick Doyle

Main Cast

Sean Bean as Jean de Carrouges
Vincent Cassel as Jacques Le Gris
Emma Watson as Marguerite de Carrouges
Supporting Cast:
Rafi Gavron as King Charles VI
David Tennant as Adam Louvel
Joseph Fiennes as Jean Le Coq
Bonnie Wright as Queen Isabeau
Maggie Smith as Dame Nicole de Carrouges

Tagline: "They had everything to gain and everything to lose"

Synopsis: In 1386, the day after Christmas, a huge crowd gathers at a Paris monastery to watch two men fight a duel to the death to prove which man is right in God's view. The dramatic true story of the knight, the squire, and the lady unfolds during the devastating Hundred Years War between France and England, as enemy troops pillage the land, madness haunts the French court, the Great Schism splits the Church, Muslim armies threaten Christendom, and rebellion, treachery, and plague turn the lives of all into toys of fortune.

Jean de Carrouges, a Norman knight returns from combat in Scotland to find his wife, Marguerite inconsolable and distressed. Marguerite accuses Jacques Le Gris, her husband's old friend and his fellow courtier Adam Louvel, of brutally raping her. The knight takes his case before the teenage King Charles VI, the highest judge in France. Amid Jacques Le Gris's vocal claims of innocence which are attested by his lawyer Jean Le Coq and doubts about the now pregnant Marguerite's charges (and about the paternity of her child), the deadlocked court decrees a "trial by combat" a duel. The 'duel' only dimly reflected the solemn grandeur of its medieval golden age, when angry nobles challenged each other and threw down the gauntlet, then sheathed themselves in armor, swore heavy religious oaths before priests, and spurred their warhorses onto a walled field to fight it out before thousands of witnesses with lance and sword and dagger, putting at risk their word and their honor, their fortunes and their lives, and even the salvation of their immortal souls. This trial by combat leaves Marguerites fate, too, in the balance; for Marguerite if her husband and champion lose, she will be put to death as a false accuser, and shall be burned at the stake. The world was not to see the like of such spectacles ever again.

What the Press would say:

Shekhar Kapur’s latest production brings to life a dramatic, tumultuous film with unforgettable characters who are caught in a fatal web of crime, scandal, and revenge. It is at once a moving human drama, a captivating detective story, and an engrossing work of historical intrigue. Kapur does not shy away from the brutality of this story, and his direction astutely goes for realism in the climactic battle scene, which is certainly gruesome, but handled to generate maximum suspense without descending into the exploitative. The collaborative efforts of Shekhar Kapur and Oscar winning scribe Julian Fellowes delivers in a way that should electrify critics and mainstream audiences alike. Fellowes smart adaptation of Eric Jager’s historical novel has created an engaging screen play that has created interesting characters that will stay with audiences long after viewing this film.

Sean Bean leads this stellar cast, as Jean de Carrouges, a respected knight who learns of the heinous crime committed against his wife by his one time friend. This leads Carrouges, to challenge Jacques Le Gris to a duel, which was the culmination of years of bitterness and rivalry between the two men. Sean Bean is the noble knight who ends up fighting for his life. Beans’ Jean de Carrouges is a complete creation, a strange and complicated individual rendered palatable and fascinating by a sensationally good actor. Sean Bean gives a performance with such ball-of-fire intensity, and enormous emotional force that he will be too hard to be overlooked for this stunning acting achievement.

Emma Watson makes a commanding impression on film goers in what is a beautiful departure from the children’s films she has become known for. In her first adult role she commands the screen with something subtler and more mysterious, playing Marguerite, the teenage wife of Jean de Carrouges who becomes the subject of rumor and gossip. Watson is volatile, sexy, challenging, and fearlessly inventive. Watson looks moviegoers straight in the eye and dares them to look away. It is a wonderfully complex creation, a wary survivor who’s both proud of her sex appeal and slightly uncomfortable with it. Marguerite may be shallow, but Watson makes her rarely unsympathetic. This is the performance that introduces Emma Watson as a serious actress.

The juiciest role in The Great Ordeal, Jacques Le Gris, belongs to Vincent Cassel. Cassel plays the suave Jacques Le Gris, a well respected Frenchman who over time gains a reputation as a hero and womanizer, who eventually loses control and commits the most heinous crime against his one time friend’s young wife. Cassel is enthralling, he makes the role the personification of brilliant, hypnotic evil, and the screen jolts with electricity whenever he is on. Much has been made of Cassel’s' mesmerizing Jacques Le Gris; this is, without doubt, his most effective film appearance to date.

The Great Ordeal is the event you’ve been waiting for.

For You Consideration:

Best Picture – Saul Zaentz
Best Director - Shekhar Kapur
Best Actor – Sean Bean
Best Actress – Emma Watson
Best Supporting Actor - Vincent Cassel
Best Adapted Screenplay – Julian Fellowes

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