Movie Reviews

The Scarlet Pimpernel

With yesterday marking the beginning of National Poetry Month, I thought it would be appropriate to start out the month of April by re-watching a movie that I knew contained a little bit of poetry…The Scarlet Pimpernel.

“They seek him here. They seek him there. Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in Heaven? Or is he in Hell? That damned, elusive, Pimpernel.”

~Sir Percy, The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

The Scarlet Pimpernel takes place in Paris during the French Revolution, during the time known as the “Reign of Terror,” when many members of the French aristocracy were being executed. When the movie begins, a series of public executions is taking place. However, one family that is supposed to go to the guillotine manages to escape, smuggled out of the city inside coffins.

The person responsible for their escape is a mysterious character known as the Scarlet Pimpernel, who uses a variety of disguises and tricks to get in and out of Paris unseen, in an attempt to save innocent people from the guillotine. Unbeknownst to everyone except his compatriots, the Scarlet Pimpernel is actually an English gentleman by the name of Sir Percy Blakeney, who plays the foppish fool in public to divert suspicion away from him.

When Sir Percy saves a young man named Armand from a couple of men who have been sent to “teach him a lesson,” he meets Armand’s sister, a beautiful actress named Marguerite, and falls in love with her at first sight. As he begins to woo her, he is also planning his most dangerous rescue yet…smuggling the heir to the French throne out of the country to safety.

The 1982 movie version of The Scarlet Pimpernel is based two novels written by Baroness Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel and Eldorado. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to read either of these novels, so I really can’t comment on the accuracy of the film adaptation.

What I can say is that The Scarlet Pimpernel tells a wonderful story, filled with action, political intrigue, espionage, and romance. The costumes and film locations are beautiful, and the acting is excellent. Anthony Andrews, who plays Sir Percy, does a particularly fantastic job of playing the different aspects of his character.

If you’re looking for a great story to escape into this week, then I highly recommend watching this version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I’m sure that you will enjoy it just as much as I did.

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