Paris 1913. Coco Chanel is infatuated with the rich and handsome Boy Capel, but she is also compelled by her work. Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is about to be performed. The ...
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Paris 1913. Coco Chanel is infatuated with the rich and handsome Boy Capel, but she is also compelled by her work. Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is about to be performed. The revolutionary dissonances of Igor's work parallel Coco's radical ideas. She wants to democratize women's fashion; he wants to redefine musical taste. Coco attends the scandalous first performance of The Rite in a chic white dress. The music and ballet are criticized as too modern, too foreign. Coco is moved but Igor is inconsolable. Paris 1920, Coco is newly wealthy and successful but grief-stricken after Boy's death in a car crash. Igor, following the Russian Revolution is now a penniless refugee living in exile in Paris. Coco is introduced to Igor by Diaghilev, impresario of the Ballets Russes. The attraction between them is instant and electric. Coco invites Igor along with his wife - now sick with consumption - together with his four children and a menagerie of birds to stay at her new villa, Bel ... Written by
The ballet "Le Sacre du Printemps" ("The Rite of Spring"), whose famous premiere of May 29, 1913, is portrayed in the film, is today rarely performed as a ballet, but rather as a concert piece strictly for orchestra. Nijinsky's original choreography was lost. See more »
When Chanel first brings Igor to see the piano in her home, he sits down to play a piece of music. The piece he plays is a duet written by Stravinsky, and though it seems like Stavinsky us sitting down to play the song it would be impossible for him to do so, since the range is both in the higher, lower and middle register of the keyboard. See more »
COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY is a sumptuously beautiful film to watch - all artsy art nouveau decor, almost devoid of conversation, with captiating portrayals of two of the 20th century's most creative talents - Coco and Igor - played with distant but memorable acting by Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen. And there is enough of the core star (Stravinsky's 'Le sacre du printemps') of the 'biography' to make it musically stable. But the problem with this otherwise tasty peak into the lives of Coco and Igor is the lack of accuracy of fact. Perhaps that is what writers Chris Greenhalgh, Carlo De Boutiny, writer/director Jan Kounen had in mind: drop a few elements of fact, mix those with a huge dollop of imagination and create a moment of lust and frustration that usually accompanies the public and private lives of stars. Perhaps in their eyes, fiction is stranger than fact.
What we do know is that prior to the May 29, 1913, at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris scandalous premiere of 'Le sacre du printemps' Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen) was a very successful composer of such favorites as 'The Firebird' and 'Petrouska' and before his premiere of 'Le sacre' was presented by the Ballet Russes under the direction of Diagilev (Grigori Manukov) with choreography by the notorious Vaslav Nijinsky (Marek Kossakowski in a very bland portrayal): Stravinsky would later write in his autobiography of the process of working with Nijinsky on the choreography, stating that "the poor boy knew nothing of music" and that Nijinsky "had been saddled with a task beyond his capacity." In the audience is the icy Coco Chanel (Anna Mouglalis) who, still grieving for her deceased lover Boy Patel (Anatole Taubman), connects with the primitive passions of the production. The film then cuts to 1920 with Stravinsky and his four children and tuberculous wife Katerina (Yelena Morozova) barely existing in Paris when Diaghilev introduces Stravinsky to the wealthy patron Coco Chanel who invites the poverty stricken Stravinsky family to stay in her lavish villa outside Paris where Stravinsky composes while Katerina copies her husband's music and Coco keeps her successful Parisian business and seeks out her famous perfume Chanel No. 5. Some history books (including memoirs by Stravinsky himself) state that the stay lasted for only 2 weeks and that the two were simply close friends, but the creators of the film would have us believe that a torrid love affair occurred under the eyes of Katerina, a lusty sexual fulfilling of a need for both geniuses which ends in Katerina and the children moving out to Biarritz and distance develops between Igor and Coco: the secretive patronage of Coco to the Ballet Russes is supposed to have allowed a new performance of the 'Sacre' with costumes designed by Chanel and re-choreographed by Leonid Massine - the truth of these elements cannot be proved.
So what we have here is a two hour nearly wordless study of the needs of two famous people colliding in an affair but also focusing the world of Paris' attention on new ways of creativity. Mikkelsen and Mouglalis are terrific if cold, the 'love' scenes are beautifully photographed, and the decor of Chanel's house and all of the costumes are splendid. Gabriel Yared provides a musical score that is based on phrases from Stravinsky and makes for an exciting background for this visual outing. It is worth viewing if only to step inside the Paris of the time of the two main characters. Just don't expect solid facts to reign! Grady Harp
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