Urban Cinefile
"Everyone is the owner of their own desires...as a writer I want to give characters moral independence."  -Spanish film maker Pedro Almodovar
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday December 3, 2019 

Search SEARCH FOR AN INTERVIEW
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

MOLINARO, EDOUARD: Beaumarchais

French director Edouard Molinaro may indeed have scored an Oscar nomination for his famous hit, La Cage Aux Folles, but as the veteran director admits to PAUL FISCHER, it's his least favourite movie.

Edouard Molinaro has been directing movies for 40 years, but ask him the one that he's the most famous for - the original film version of La Cage Aux Folles - and the least said about that the better. "It's not a film I'm especially proud of" retorts the 70-year old filmmaker from his Paris office. "I've always hated this brand of vaudevillian humour. I don't have that background nor the kind of humour needed to appreciated farce."

The main reason he agreed to do the film, he adds, "was to remain a part of the film industry. That was all." He has even less time for a Hollywood that turned La Cage into The Birdcage, the third of Molinaro's films to receive the Hollywood treatment. "They don't possess any original ideas, so they need to destroy ours. The Birdcage was a disaster and should never have been made."

"I didn't want to make a boring, historical drama, so I chose to depict 10 years in his life, years which showed him to be a great writer and political activist."

There's little doubt that Hollywood won't be rushing to 'Americanise' his latest film, a historical comedy/drama about the life of French poet and playwright Beaumarchais in the film Beaumarchais the Scoundrel. "He was a man ahead of his times", the director says emphatically. The film traces 10 years in the life of the creator of the famous Figaro, immortalised in The Barber of Seville and its sequel, The Marriage of Figaro. "I didn't want to make a boring, historical drama, so I chose to depict 10 years in his life, years which showed him to be a great writer and political activist."

Set in the courts of Louis XV and the soon-to-be-beheaded Louis XVI, the film was partly based on a play, but Molinaro says he wanted to make a film relevant to contemporary audiences. "It's a film that also examines the cynicism and hypocrisies of politics. It is also a story of a genuine revolutionary whose writings partly inspired the French Revolution."

Molinaro is a former industrial and documentary filmmaker, who made his feature debut with "Evidence in Concrete" (1957). Some of his other films include Oscar (1967 - and later remade in Hollywood as an unfortunate comic vehicle for Sylvester Stallone), the classic Mon Oncle, Sunday Lovers and The Supper. His fluid camera technique and light directorial touch were put to good use in his sensitive, humorous portrait of gay life, in La Cage aux Folles (1978). He also directed the first of the two sequels La Cage aux Folles II "for the money", he quips.

"To get a decent film made here which doesn't mock its audience, is a miracle. What French cinema lacks is a real quality that still appeals to the masses."

As a director now for some four decades, one would imagine that Monsieur Molinaro would have no difficulty getting a film off the ground. Not so. "To get a decent film made here which doesn't mock its audience, is a miracle. What French cinema lacks is a real quality that still appeals to the masses. The trouble with this industry, is that there's an intellectual arm and a commercial arm; there's no real centre of quality." But the director is trying to change that. He says his next film will be a complete departure from everything that has come before, especially Beaumarchais. "I'm now 70, so it stands to reason that at this stage of my life I should be making a film about adolescence, and it will be a comedy."

Beaumarchais the Scoundrel, Australian release: June 26, 1997

Email this article


Molinaro is pictured at left on set with his leading man

See Reviews

Images from Beaumarchais







Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2019