Escape to Varennes (film)
The film is based on the 1982 novel La Nuit de Varennes ou l'Impossible n'est pas français by Catherine Rihoit and deals with a historical event from 1791 , namely the attempted escape of the French King Louis XVI. and his wife, Queen Marie-Antoinette to Varennes ( Lorraine ) and their arrest.
The structure of the film follows that of the road movie : In June 1791, the writer Restif de la Bretonne happened to receive information about strange events in the royal palace in the brothel . As he curiously roams around it in the middle of the night, he sees a mysterious carriage leaving the palace ( Palais Royal ) in the middle of the Paris night , while a noble lady, whose servant carries a voluminous piece of luggage, strives away in a different direction. The next day he tries to reach his friend Thomas Paine at the post office before he leaves for Lorraine . When he recognized the distinguished lady from the night as Paine's travel companion, he spontaneously decided to follow the stagecoach on horseback. On the way he met the traveling on the same road old Casanova , who Restif to ride invites. After a breakneck overtaking maneuver, the two writers' coach broke its axle and was overtaken by the stagecoach again. You recognize Casanova and invite him and Restif for a ride. A travel company has gathered on and in the carriage, the members of which represent significant parts of the society of that time, who reflect on the revolutionary times in their dialogues in various discussion groups in the carriage itself, in inns and while resting in the open air. The positions and worldviews of a royal official who travels with his lover, an opera singer, the court nobility (Casanova, Comtesse de la Borde), the intellectuals (Restif, Paine), the self-confident, ambitious bourgeoisie (De Wendel, Madame Gagnon) and a revolutionary student meet partly in irreconcilable confrontation, partly in elegant, flirtatious conversation. While changing horses and resting, the tour company always gets the latest news about political developments in Paris and soon also that they are on the same road as the fleeing king, whom they follow willy-nilly. When it became known that the king had been detained in Varennes , the tour company followed the procession of the population into the small town and witnessed his formal arrest by representatives of the National Assembly. At the end, the Comtesse de la Borde opens the mysterious package that she carried after the royal coach: it contains the king's state robe, which is draped on a clothes rack, in front of which the Comtesse kneels one last time.
The lexicon of international film gave a clearly positive verdict: “A film about the revolution, but not understood as a conflict of ideologies, but a differentiated panorama of fears, hopes, memories and visions. Director Scola describes his characters (played by an excellent cast of actors) with loving accuracy, with a lot of wit and charm and with a dash of tragic irony. "
- Catherine Rihoit : La Nuit de Varennes ou l'Impossible n'est pas français . Ramsay, Paris 1982, 312 pages, ISBN 2-85956-260-5 - so far no German translation exists