Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a British film from 1982 based on a novel by Baroness Orczy with the same name. Actually she wrote a series of stories about the same character. The events in the film take place during the French Revolution. The chief character, Sir Percy Blakeney is an Englishman who leads a double life. He pretends to be an idiot  interested in nothing except fashion, while at the same time under the name of the Scarlet Pimpernel he is saving innocent French aristocrats from Madame Guillotine. As a result of his actions, the whole police force of France are seeking him, with no success. Robespierre orders Citizen Chauvelin to catch him. Chauvelin is in love with Marguerite St Just who is called the most beautiful actress of France. Sir Percy accidentally meets her, and falls in love with her, too. He proposes and she accepts, however, they seem not to be destined for the marital bliss as on their wedding day Percy learns that his wife sent an innocent man to the guillotine. In reality, it wasn't Marguerite's fault, as Chauvelin used her name on the arrest warrant to pay her back for ditching him. Percy, however, believes in Marguerite's betrayal and treats her accordingly. Poor Marguerite doesn't understand what she did wrong. To complicate things even further, Chauvelin comes to England and with threats and blackmail forces Marguerite to help him identify the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel. When she realises that Scarlet Pimpernel is in fact, her own husband, it's too late as Chauvelin has learned it, too. In despair, Marguerite leaves for France as to try and warn Percy or to die together with him.

There are lots of fan videos on YouTube, here is one of them:

Sir Percy is played by Anthony Andrews, the actor who also played Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited. Marguerite is played by Jane Seymour, and Chauvelin by Ian McKellen, whom you all probably have seen as Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings.

The whole film can be watched on YouTube, here is the link to Part1:

The Scarlet Pimpernel 1982

The were more screen adaptations of the novel, the very first one dates from 1934, and it is also a good one, chiefly due to the brilliant acting of the main characters. Sir Percy is played by Leslie Howard, the same actor who played Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind. Citizen Chauvelin is played by Raymond Massey and Marguerite by Merle Oberon. The story differs slightly in some details, the chief difference is that Sir Percy gets motivated to action by his wife's supposed betrayal. It also can be watched on YouTube, captioned:

The Scarlet Pimpernel 1934

There was a Broadway musical based on the book, plus a lot of amateur productions:

The Falcon In The Dive

I find it a very uplifting story, because it shows that all it takes to fight injustice is for one man with principles and honour to take a stand. And oh yes, because Sir Percy is hawt!:)

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