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Delightful French farce.
"Carnival in Flanders" is an overlooked French comedy that probably would seem quite dated today, if not for it being set in a past era (the 1600's) when a bit of mustiness feels appropriate. But, more importantly, the film's take on sexuality and gender politics is surprisingly ribald and contemporary. A small Belgian town expects a visitation from a potentially brutal Spanish troop, and the local male figureheads can't figure out anything to do but hide. The burgermeister even decides to fake his own death (with plenty of amusing consequences). Left to their own devices, the women hatch their own scheme, which amounts to disarming the invaders with food, flirtation and sex. It's a shock to see a 1930s movie depicting a woman hopping from room to room to seduce a parade of near-strangers, and the sly suggestion of a homosexual soldier who would rather do needlepoint is hilarious. There are even flashes of bare breasts. The rousing score and wonderful costumes are a bonus -- the only substantial flaw is that modern Hollywood protocol makes us anticipate the "bad guys" being made to look like grand fools. This satisfying humiliation never occurs. In fact, the twist is that the refined Spaniards turn out to be better men than the cowardly neighborhood boors. Still, "Flanders" is an accessible, delightful film that, along the way, manages to draw some obvious parallels with the growing threat of Nazism.
Morally complicated and, in its place and time, giving quite controversial subtext, this well-filmed early party comedy makes bold moves, but they are now quite dated.
wonderful costume comedy
As the Spanish prepare to invade a 17th-century Flemish village, the townsmen comes up with a cowardly solution to avoid them... and the womenfolk take matters into their hands. This is marvelous social satire, belonging among the best of Renoir, Clair, Carne and Bunuel. A witty script, risque scenarios, charming performances and some fine cinematography. The mayor's vision of what will happen to their town is something to behold! I really enjoyed it, and hope to see more by Feyder. One thing, though... he does seem to be mocking the Dutch for their willingness to roll over for the Germans, I wonder if he'd be a little more reluctant to point fingers 10 years later.
Angry Belgians wanted it banned, but the government wouldn't do it. Hooray for the Chamber of Deputies! They knew a good comedy has to poke.
Si festif pour un film produit en temps plutÃ´t sombres.