Thursday, 26 July 2012

Challenge Excepted: France

A historical drama that has hardly been mentioned. It is France this time and the film, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky.

I saw 'Coco Before Chanel' (2009) in the cinemas and didn't think much about the film. I thought I would get an insight to one of the most famous people in fashion and one of the most infamous women of the 20th Century, but I didn't really. When she finally started wearing men's clothing and cutting up material, that's when the magic happened. I started to become interested in her affair with the British polo player, Captain Arther Edward 'Boy' Capel but the film ended before that was explored.

As I had never researched or had reason before to look up Chanel I was amazed to see so much about her. I am not a fashion follower and know nothing of fashion history. But I was surprised to see that 'She was the only fashion designer to be named on Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century'.

While 'Coco Before Chanel' ended with Coco's relationship with 'Boy' only just starting, in this film, he dies just after the first few scenes. But this film isn't about him and her. It's about what happened after the love of Chanel's life dies in a car accident and Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring' causes one of the most famous classical music riots in history.

The film begins in 1913. The premiere of Stravinsky's latest work, The Rite of Spring, is performed. There is riot, the audience is outraged by the composition of the music. Coco Chanel is in the audience.

Seven years later, Chanel and Stravinsky meet again. Chanel's business in fashion is flourishing but she is still mourning the death of Boy. Stravinsky and his family have decided to flee Russia and the revolution and live in France but they are almost penniless. When these two meet there is, yes, immediate attraction, as well as sympathy.

Chanel invited Stravinsky and his family to live in her villa outside Paris. The family move in and things start to get better for the Russian family. But of course, during the summer months, Chanel and Stravinsky begin an affair.

You may think when reading this that I've given everything away. I haven't. The film is amazing to watch if not for the effortless shots but for the actors who embody their characters so well that I forgot who they were. Anna Mouglalis, a past Chanel model and Mads Mikkelsen are perfect as Chanel and Stravinsky. The glances and silences they share were captivating, it didn't matter what scene it was, they had chemistry that some films miss where a love affair is concerned.

I enjoyed this film more than 'Coco Before Chanel' because this didn't feel like it was catering for the masses. The masses that only speak english anyway. It had a different quality that felt like a true french film. CBC (I'm shortening it now) felt more like a commercial that english speakers could watch and say they'd seen a foreign film. I really loved Coco & Igor, it was simple, sad and passionate, couldn't ask for more.

 End Line: Music + Fashion + Perfume x Frustration ÷ Passion = Yes, it was erotic

Next: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Iceland, Sweden, Hungary & Romania, Mexico

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