Dangerous Liaisons - Movie Review Example

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Wesleyan University
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The film Dangerous Liaisons is set in 18th century France, just before the revolution. It is a film that explores, in a rather raw, explicit way, themes of love, the class divide and struggle and expression. It tells the story of how two characters who were once lovers Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont, devote themselves to sexual liaisons, not necessarily in the pursuit of pleasure but to seek power. They con their victims into believing they are loved, and do not themselves commit to anything, effectively retaining the power they have over them by not loving them back and ruining their lives. Reading other literature has also expanded the understanding of the 1988 movie.

In Pamela or Virtue Rewarded, the issue of class and gender nuances is openly visible. In both stories, there is a (relatively) lowly lady and a richer aristocrat character with whom they are or were in love. While this is not the explicit theme in both stories, the role of the class divide is clear. In both narratives, the ladies understand that in order to fit into a certain class and be accepted, they will have to sacrifice a bit of themselves and be able to withstand some pain. In the film, for instance, Marquise de Merteuil is pushes herself to look like a woman of a certain class, from the way she dresses, which is not really comfortable but is meant to have her look like a lady, to her demeanor. In the book Pamela, after accepting the equitable marriage proposal from Mr. B, Pamela then attempts to push herself into the upper class in order to build a successful relationship with Mr. B. Pamelas case is an especially curious case of the interaction between love and riches/class. While Mr. B makes advances towards her but she constantly rebuffs him, preferring instead to preserve her virtue. However, when he proposes an equitable marriage, she accepts the proposal despite the previous unwanted advances and what that says about Mr. Bs character. In fact, this acceptance is seen as some sort of reward for her virtue. Dangerous Liaisons also shows similar trends. One might be forgiven for believing that virtue is something that is to be preserved and given as a gift to a rich benefactor, in effect being rewarded for staying pure by marrying into affluence.

The licentiousness with which the movie is presented; the love affair between Vicomte and Madame de Tourvel whom he goes to instead of his intended target in the country, and the later realization that the two main characters have about each other, is a raw portrayal of the power of love. It transcends class and any sinister plans, and always seems to show in the end. One way to look at the film dangerous liaisons is to consider it as a triumph of love. The protagonist Marquise de Merteuil loses her love and in a quest for revenge, sends her subject Vicomte to seduce the object of her hatred. In the process, he falls for another, a fact that only reveals the extent of the feelings she still has for Vicomte. As much as they try to hide from feelings and their folly, hatching a plan that is supposed to be impersonal, they cannot escape the idea of love and the chaos and attachment that comes with it. Pamelas scenario is the same. Even though she tries to escape the advances of Mr. B, he eventually wins her over with the ultimate expression of love, the commitment of marriage.

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