When I was a child, growing up in the former East Bloc, the Czech and Slovak cinematography was the prevailing one in both cinemas and television. However, the broadcasting did embrace the occasional French or Italian movies.
One of the most romantic and extremely sensual series included five films based on thirteen books written by the French novelist duo Anne and Serge Golon.
These depicted the adventures of Angélique de Sance de Monteloup and the affection between her and the gallant, intelligent and charming Joffrey Comte de Peyrac. A love story of the most extreme romantic kind, the movies are a continuous display of passion and chivalry, one that is long gone from the cinematography of today and would most likely be viewed as ridiculous, naïve and perhaps too flamboyant to be taken seriously as well. Which is a shame.
The plot of the first book (and movie) in brief is one of the tragic kind, as any true love story really is.
Angélique, child of an impoverished country nobleman, finds herself betrothed to the rich count, Joffrey de Peyrac, 12 years her senior. He is lame, scarred and reputed to be a wizard. Angélique reluctantly agrees to the match but in time discovers the talents and virtues of her remarkable husband: scientist, musician, philosopher; and to her surprise falls passionately in love with him.
Tragically, Joffrey's unusual way of life causes his arrest and charged with sorcery he is to be burned at the stake. Angélique, despite trying to save Joffrey, alone and desperate, plunges into the darkness of the Paris underworld...
I was way to young to watch or understand the movies and I never read the books. But I remember they were very popular, and when the series were re-send on television in the seventies, I used to watch them with my parents. To this day the images stayed with me in the dusty corners of my memory, somewhat forgotten, until they recently resurfaced, when brought back by a sheer coincidence. I love this kind of serendipity and I am always left with a sense of wonder when it occurs. Often left pondering the fact of how many beautiful moments of the past we carry with us, those often forgotten, stored away in the attic of our mind. Stumbling upon them it is like finding a long lost friend or discovering a treasure, making us aware of the relativity of time.
Below a series of scenes from the first movie accompanied by the famous soundtrack. It was made in 1964, entitled Angélique, Marquise des Anges (Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels), featuring the beautiful Michele Mercier and handsome Robert Hossein.
They just do not portray romance this way anymore...