Film Journal 2023: Chevalier

Film Journal 2023: Chevalier
Directed by Stephen Williams

Lost in the shadows of some high profile releases, and even a respective higher budgeted A24 indie art project by Ari Aster, this overlooked mid budget period piece deserves your attention. And given the way it’s built for the cinematic experience, a crowd.

Normally period dramas like this tend to be shot with wide angles and unhurried pacing. Chevalier employs a mixture of narrow frames and quick moving camera work befitting the musical subtext. The result is a richly entertaining and immerse experience, helping to bring the history to life like an orchestrated symphony or grand opera.

And speaking of the stellar score. The story of Chevalier, a French-Caribbean violinist and composer who fights through the political and social restraints of his day during the reign of Marie Antoinette, becoming a musical prodigy and leading the way for revolution in the area of inequality and racism against women and black people, is afforded a soaring score that perfectly orchestrates the rise and fall nature of the story. Some expertly crafted sequences work in concert as well with a handful of charismatic and invested performances, injecting the whole thing with a spirited energy that carries and expresses the urgency of the revolutionary context. The fact that this tells the story of a lesser known figure who was in fact erased from history during the era of Bonaparte, before eventually being resurrected through the work of diligent scholarship, adds to the overall intrigue.

An impressive effort for a film that was not in any way on my radar. I’m hoping it finds the audience it deserves.

Published by davetcourt

I am a 40 something Canadian with a passion for theology, film, reading writing and travel.

4 thoughts on “Film Journal 2023: Chevalier

  1. I am eager to see this one. I didn’t know about Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges until my local classical music station started playing his music as part of its (laudable and thorough-going) efforts to diversify the playlist. The movie looks like it will be very entertaining, and I am glad you said it deserves to be seen on a big screen – I’ll try to do that!


    1. Hope you enjoy it if you get the chance, I went in cold having never heard of him before, so I enjoyed getting to know the story, both through the film and afterwards


      1. You were absolutely right, Dave – very impressive film, and definitely worth a trip to the big screen movie theater! Thanks for recommending it.


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