THE ADVENTURES OF GERARD
UK, 1970, 91 minutes, Colour.
Peter Mc Enery, Claudia Cardinale, Eli Wallach, Jack Hawkins.
Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski.
The Adventures of Gerard is a tongue-in-cheek comedy set in the Napoleonic era. It has an international cast and is of interest because it is directed by Jerzy Skolimowski. This Polish director had many successes in his native land e.g. Barrier. With The Adventures Of Gerard he moved into the international scene. Subsequent films which made an impression were Deep End with John Moulder Brown, Jane Asher and Diana Dors, set in a London baths, a story of madness and violence.
King, Queen, Knave with David Niven, Gina Lollobrigida and John Moulder Brown, again a black comedy but set in Europe and the world of big business; The Shout with Alan Bates, Susannah York and John Hurt, a version of Robert Graves' eerie short
story. This film is interesting as a version of the Napoleonic times as seen by a distinctive Polish director.
1. What genre was this film? How did you establish this from the style of the film itself?
2. Comment on the use of different cinematic styles in the film. The comedy and the farce. Speeding up. Quick editing. The use of music. The exaggerations.
3. What is the point of making a film like this? Do audiences easily understand these styles? What points were behind the story and the treatment? What was the attitude towards was of the film-makers? Towards love? Towards pride and vanity?
4. Was there a proper sense of proportion between the events of the Napoleonic wars and the treatment they received in the film? Why?
5. The character of Gerard ? in himself? Was he well drawn as a character? Was he too much of a caricature? What attitude did he have towards himself? The remarks that he made to the audience? His self-analysis? His daring? His foolhardiness? His response to his adventures ? were they too much like a comic? Or even if they were like a comic, did they fit into the type of satire of the film? What was being satirised in Gerard?
6. Was Teresa a worthwhile heroine? Was she too much the heroine of a comic book and an adventure? Did she have real feelings? Her involvement in the early adventures ? with the lather on her face etc.? At home in the castle? With the coach when it went over the cliff etc.? Did she change at the end? Did she love Gerard at all? Did he love her? The effect on her being left finally up the tree? What point was being made about heroines in the portrayal of Teresa.
7. How was John Russell an English contrast to Gerard? The scenes of their duel, especially the dog, the manners, the final rebuke about Gerard's participating in the fox hunt?
8. The picture of Napoleon, the fact that Eli Wallach played the part? What satire on Napoleon and his ambitions? Was the portrayal too comic?
9. The importance of the bandits and their leader? The exaggerated dress? The cruelty and sadism? The torture and the leader's deafness?
10. There were many comic incidents in the film ? which were the most telling? Why?
11. What was the satire on the English? The French? The Spanish? Especially in the introductory remarks of the film and in the behaviour during the battles?
12. Was the comedy really funny? or was it an insight into the comic foibles of human behaviour? And of history?