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Ridicule

French film, 1996. Young provincial aristocrat (circa 1790's) goes to appeal to the King to help him drain the swamps of his county. In order to get to the King he has to become a wit (and along the way sleep with Fanny Ardant). In the end when he prefers the innocent and intellectual daughter of his benefactor the court turns on him. This is what Dangerous Liaisons and Valmont could have been if there had been anything at all at stake for anyone in them (although the book and the play are better than either film). Very lovely, and said a lot about the crowd mentality, the vapidness of wit as a soul purpose for being and the fear that accompanies any game of popularity. I've written about this before--cruelty masquerading as intelligence. Cleverness masquerading as depth. Sad that it seems so timeless.

(One thing that was delightful was the effort to distinguish the French Esprit from the English "hew-mah" (humor), deemed untranslatable.)

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