The Voyage of Captain Fracassa (1990)

86% – Critics
86% – Audience

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The Voyage of Captain Fracassa Movie Reviews

A Sadly Forgotten Gem

This movie is one of the best films the great Italian director, Ettore Scola has ever made. It also has a fantastic cast, all doing a great job, but, is seems the late Massimo Troisi does outshine them all, with a stunning performance as Pulcinella, a Sancho Panza sort of clown. This fantasy, dream-like tale, is based on the famous book by the same name by Théophile Gautier, the French author. This is actually the 5th movie adaptation of this novel, which must tell you something about its force to attract generations of film makers.

Vincent Pérez plays Baron of Sigognac, a young royal, whose quest for material wealth brings him true love and revelations on the nature of this world. The plot themes are somewhat related to Stoppard’s excellent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead – both uses the traveling players to explore the nature of the human condition. One might also recall Bergman’s Seventh Seal, but Fracassa is more akin of Stoppard’s light hearted, witty, approach to those grave subjects.

A truly exceptional, beautiful and entertaining film, a long standing achievement for all involved, surely better than Il Postino, though, sadly, much less known. Surely overdue for re-release?

The finest film experience in many years (slight spoiler)

Some friends of mine and I were persuaded to see The Journey of Captain Fracassa on a film club the other night. Although our tastes in film are very different, we were all greatly impressed and moved by this captivating fantasy.

The film is beautiful to look at, with its special mixture of theatrical scenography and bitter realism, among its very playful, elegant and entertaining script is also great amounts of subtle wisdom. The characters seem simple at first, but develop great depths as the film moves along. “The Journey of Captain Fracassa” is also superbly acted, each of the performances is memorable; the beautiful, expressive faces of the actors and actresses stay with you for a long time. If anyone should be mentioned, though, it must be Massimo Troisi’s moving blend of naïveté and wisdom as the classical fool, Pulcinella, and Vincent Perez’ impressive transformation as the insecure Baron de Sigognac, who becomes a lover and a performer of the theatre. Perez starts out looking all wide-eyed and trembling, and finishes with the confident air of an Italian football player. A lovely performance.

I go to film clubs regularly and have had many great film experiences in the last years. However, I can hardly remember leaving the cinema more profoundly entranced and touched than after having seen The Journey of Captain Fracassa. Do not miss the opportunity to see it. I ardently hope it will be re-released soon; I will be the first in line to secure the dvd.

The Most Adorable Tribute of the Cinema to the Theater World

In the Eighteenth Century, the “Traveling Company of Scenic Arts” composed by Tyrant (Toni Ucci), Lady Leonarde (Lauretta Masiero), Serafina (Ornella Muti), Isabella (Emmanuelle Béart), Leandre (Massimo Wertmüller), Zerbina (Tosca D’Aquino), Matamore (Jean-François Perrier) and Pulcinella (Massimo Troisi) gets lost in the territory of Gascogne while traveling to Paris due to the bad weather. They see a castle and ask to the servant Pietro (Ciccio Ingrassia) to spend the night in the spot expecting to have a comfortable lodging. Sooner they learn that the destroyed castle belongs to the ruined nobleman Jean Luc Henry Camille, the Baron of Sigognac (Vincent Perez). Pietro asks the company to take Sigognac with them to Paris since the father of King Luis XIII had been saved by the baron’s father Henrique de Navarra and Luis XIII would certainly reward Sigognac in gratitude. He also secretly gives one hundred gold coins to Pulcinella to serve Sigognac. Along their journey, Sigognac finds love with Serafina and Isabella and learns to love his new friends and the world of theater.

“Il Viaggio di Capitan Fracassa” is the most adorable tribute of the cinema to the theater world. Twenty years ago, when I saw this film for the first time, I felt in love for this gem that has two of the most beautiful European actresses, Ornella Muti and Emmanuelle Béart, in the top of their shapes; Vincent Perez in his best role; Massimo Troisi hilarious; and a magnificent European cast. One of the best and most touching moments is when each actor and actress dreams on what they would do in Paris after meeting Luis XIII. The funniest is certainly when the troupe is waiting for their meal in the tavern. My only negative remark is that Emmanuelle Béart, Vincent Perez and Jean-François Perrier are awfully dubbed in Italian. My vote is ten.

P.S.: I had this film on VHS and last week I bought the shameful DVD released by the Brazilian Distributor Lume Films. The image seems to be a copy of VHS and I was not able to see the last chapters in my Pioneer DVD Player. Only the Samsung DVD player was able to read the last five chapters.

Title (Brazil): “A Viagem do Capitão Tornado” (“The Journey of Captain Tornado”)