Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Les Malheurs de Sophie - The Movie

I am so excited to blog about this topic!  I am a big fan of the stories written by La Comtesse de Ségur.  I have read them when I was a kid and I still re-read them today.

Her most famous novel is probably Les Malheurs de Sophie which was published in 1859 and is about the story of a mischievious little girl named Sophie de Réan and her life with her cousin Paul and her two friends, Camille and Madeleine (who are featured in the book Les Petites Filles Modèles).  However, Sophie is far from perfect and the accounts of her adventures were sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always very touching and memorable.

The success of the novel is such that there have been many editions and re-editions.  I am particularly fond of the Casterman collection of novels from the Comtesse de Ségur.  There have been 2 movies based on the book : a 1946 black and white movie and a 1979 in color. 

The latter one is the one I watched as a kid when it aired on TV. I can't tell you how much I loved that movie!   It was produced by the late Jean-Claude Brialy, who was also a famous French actor.  He first became well known for his acting in the French New Wave films and with many more movies afterward.  I have been looking everywhere for that movie but could not find anything.... until it was finally issued in DVD format in 2011!!!

I clicked on that purchase button quicker than you can say Yippee!  I remember fondly the movie theme song by Chanta Goya and the video below shows a few scenes from the movie as well.

I have viewed it a few times now and I must say it has not lost its charm.  I still love seeing the characters come to life, the beautiful costumes (HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THOSE DRESSES!) and the darling little actors playing Sophie and Paul. 

The movie follows closely the book story but out of the 21 chapters of the book, only 9 are acted out in the movie.  I don't mind so much because the movie would be much too long otherwise. But it would have been nice to see a sequel to feature the remaining chapters!

The image quality is not super crisp compared to what we are used to nowadays but it is not awful either.  The sound not so-so. I had to crank up the volume to hear the conversation.  It is especially annoying since there are no option for subtitles or dubbing. It is very unfortunate because I wished I could show this movie to the non-French-speaking children.  They still liked to watch it and were curious about the costumes and laughed at Sophie's mischiefs.
But I have one major complaint: they CUT OUT SOME SCENES! And it wasn't just any scenes but one important one : the argument Sophie had with Madeleine and Camille that lead her to wet her hair.  The DVD only shows the scene when Sophie got all wet which made no sense at all!   A few other scenes were cut as well such as the part preceding the picnic at the end, which was really annoying because once again the story made no sense when they cut out scenes like that!

So I am irked by this major flaw but I still love the movie and after years of waiting I would still recommend people to buy it because no other movies are like this one! The details in the costumes, castle life, servants interaction and everything else made it worth to watch over again and again.

There is also a cartoon version of Sophie's adventures but they are in French as well.
If you want to find out about what happens to Sophie, I recommend reading the books which I will write about in the next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment