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The Romance of Astrea and Celadon

2007 [FRENCH]

Comedy / Drama / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Fresh67%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled52%
IMDb Rating6.3101634

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN


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1002.37 MB
French 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 49 min
P/S 41 / 125
1.82 GB
French 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 49 min
P/S 20 / 110

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by howard.schumann10 / 10

Back to the future

Eric Rohmer's announced last film, The Romance of Astrea and Céladon, is a costumed period piece based on a 1610 novel by Honoré d'Urfé that imagines what life was like in Fifth century Gaul. It is a work of sublime physical beauty and surprising eroticism that looks both backwards and forwards in time. While it appears to be a look back at a naive and outdated way of life, it may indeed be the opposite - Rohmer's final rebuke of the spiritual emptiness of the modern world, and a preview of a new world struggling to be born. This strange dichotomy is implied by the unusual preface in which a voice announces that the story had to be moved from the Forez plain, "now disfigured by urban blight and conifer plantations, to another part of France whose scenery has retained its wild poetry and bucolic charm." Rohmer transports the viewer to a world of idyllic streams and forests where shepherds dress in the tunics of the Seventeenth century. Celadon (Andy Gillet),a young man of noble birth has chosen the simple life of a shepherd and is deeply in love with Astrea (Stephanie Crayencour),a shepherdess of more modest family lineage. Though the film in lesser hands might have seemed a bit silly, Rohmer's straightforward direction reveals an emotional truth often obscured by modern cinematic techniques of fast cuts, hand-held camera-work, and curse words that are supposed to enhance "realism.

At a family gathering, Céladon pretends to be infatuated with Amynthe (Priscilla Galland) to mollify his and Astrea's parents who are bickering, but when Astrea sees him kiss the other woman, she is racked by jealousy and orders Celadon to stay away from her forever "unless I bid you otherwise". In despair, Céladon says "I'll drown myself, at once" and proceeds to jump into the river – at once, but is rescued before drowning by the nymph Galathea (Veronique Reymond) who brings him to her castle and, with the support of two other nymphs, nurses him back to health.

When Galathea discovers how attractive he is, however, she wants Céladon for her own pleasure and forbids him to leave the castle but, in the film's first instance of cross-dressing (a notorious Shakespearean plot device),he is smuggled out by another nymph, Leonide (Cecile Cassel) and hides out in the woods. Astrea believes Céladon to be dead and with some regret, forgives him and loves him more than ever, though Céladon refuses to see her out of respect for her word. He begins to rethink his position, however, after being visited by a druid priest (Serge Renko) who hatches a secret scheme to reunite the two lovers.

The Romance of Astrea and Céladon is filled with a lightness that is absent from Rohmer's more talky Six Moral Tales and later films in which the characters pontificate at length on the ins and outs of romantic love. His philosophical (and Catholic) bent surfaces, however, in a scene in which Hylas (Rodolphe Pauly),a jester, who is regarded with complete disdain by others, berates the follies of indiscriminate sexuality while Lycidas (Jocelyn Quivrin) promotes love as an ideal that merges two souls into one and the film's robust final sequence demonstrates the extremes one may go to for love.

In The Romance of Astrea and Céladon, Rohmer, now in his 87th year, promotes the ideals of commitment, the integrity of one's word, and the poetry of romantic love without its modern day clatter. While these ideals may not seem terribly exciting (one film critic wrote that, "maybe humankind ditched romantic fidelity because it isn't exciting!"),they act to ground us in our noblest aspirations, to remind us of what it means to be human, a task that, in his six decades of film-making, Rohmer has exquisitely accomplished and which The Romance of Astrea and Céladon places a final exclamation point.

Reviewed by michael-schwartz-28 / 10


I love Rohmer's films - about people in love who talk too much about being in love - but wasn't sure how I'd take this one. Not to worry. It's the distilled essence of the other films, an abstraction of them. The characters in those films are always less deep than they believe. Part of the pleasure is seeing them brought back to normal humanity. Here the characters start out shallow and stay there. The lovers are lovers and nothing more. Their love is a given. The complications are perfunctory, as is the resolution. In the middle of this shallowness, Rohmer gives us a philosophical conversation that is basically about the Trinity (Druid-style, to be sure) and the oneness of the multiple gods, and another conversation about the oneness of lovers. And then the resolution has Celadon becoming Astrea and then Astrea and Celadon becoming one, so the shallow story becomes a reflection of divinity.

I loved the pastoral setting. The countryside is beautiful - flowers in almost every shot - without having its beauty forced on you. The sound is live and dense - human conversation embedded in the natural noise of water and birds. Yet the characters, especially the nymphs, felt something like Rohmer's modern Parisians without seeming alien from their setting. It's a masterful touch.

This is not my favorite Rohmer, of course. But it's a wonderful way for him to sum up his career and to say au revoir or even adieu.

Reviewed by Chris Knipp7 / 10

Transferring pastoral to screen may require more elaborate techniques

Eighty-seven now, the indefatigable Rohmer still explores his obsession with young lovers. In this his declared swan song, he follows the theme via the pastoral romance of Honoré d'Urfé, penned in seventeenth-century France and set in the Forez plain in fifth-century Gaul. This is a classic star-crossed lovers tale with a happy ending that involves some cross-dressing by the pretty Celadon (Andy Gillet). He thinks his girlfriend Astrea (Stephanie Crayencour) has forbidden him to come into her sight, so he poses as the daughter of a high-born Druid priest. Though too tall, as cross-dressers often are, the striking Gillet is certainly beautiful enough to pose as a girl (Crayencour, though appealing, can hardly compete for looks—till she bares a breast, one area where Andy can't compete). When Celadon, as a "she," gets so friendly with Astrea they start kissing passionately early one morning in front of some other girls, there's some titillating gender-bending going on that gives this otherwise odd and dry piece some contemporary interest.

As opening texts explain, the film was made in another region because the Forez plain is "urbanized" and otherwise ruined today. The mostly young cast wears costumes designed to evoke the seventeenth-century conception of what d'Urfe's antique (and largely mythical) shepherds and priests wore. Just as Rohmer's contemporary young lovers in his "Moral Tales" have little to distract them from their flirtations and love-debates, d'Urfé's characters are those of an ancient pastoral tradition who never get their hands dirty and spend their times in quiet, paintable pursuits like dancing, singing, or frolicking in the grass discussing the ideals of courtly love. Rohmer uses this idealized world as a more detached version of his usual emotional landscape. However, this film is more similar to the artificial and somehow un-Rohmer-esquire late efforts 'The Lady and the Duke' and 'Triple Agent' than to his really charming and characteristic work.

In the beginning of the story, the lovers have apparently had a spat. Celadon allows Astrea to see him dancing and flirting with another girl at a dance. Later he insists it was only a "pretense," but Astrea jumps to the conclusion her boyfriend is a philanderer and is so angry she banishes him forever from her sight. His reaction is to throw himself into the river. While Astrea and her girlfriends go looking, he's washed up on shore at some distance, nearly drowned. He's rescued and nurtured back to waking health by an upper-class nymph (Veronique Reymond) who lives in a (presumably seventeenth-century) castle.

A druid priest (Serge Renko) and his niece Leonide (Cecile Cassel) supervise Celadon after he flees from the nymph's clutches. He pouts in a kind of pastoral tepee for a while, and then is persuaded to put on women's clothes so he can be close to his beloved. One wonders if Rohmer hadn't lost control of the casting when we see the over-acting, annoying Rodolphe Pauly as Hylas, a troubadour who opposes the prevailing platonic tradition in favor of free love with multiple partners. Pauly completely breaks the heightened, elegant tone and introduces an amateurish note, which is the more dangerous since the simplicity of the outdoor shooting already risks evoking some French YouTube skit. Things liven up considerably when Celadon is in drag, but by that time Rohmer will have lost the sympathy of many viewers.

Adapting seventeenth-century pastoral tales to the screen may be a far-fetched enterprise at best, but there must be better methods than this. Paradoxically, though the pastoral ideal is about purity and simplicity, recapturing it is likely to require more elaborate methods than this. The Sofia Coppola of 'Marie Antoinette' might have managed it—and that film does have a pastoral interlude, though not "pure" pastoral but aristocrats camping it up as shepherds and shepherdesses. Rohmer's bare-bones methods worked well for most of his career because the people and their conversations were interesting enough in themselves; the intensity of his own interest made them so. Such methods don't work so well here. The talk in 'The Romance of Astrea and Celadon' is too stilted and dry most of the way to hold much interest. For dyed-in-the-wool Rohmer fans, of course, this mature work is nonetheless required viewing. Newcomers as usual had best go back to 'My Night at Maude's' and 'Claire's Knee' to understand the perennial interest of this quintessentially French filmmaker.

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