Carousels and Carnivals

  • Simon Richter


In 1949, Max Ophuls, Jewish German director of international acclaim, ended his eight-year exile in Hollywood and returned to Europe, specifically to France, where he had lived, also in exile, from 1936 to 1940. His first film project in postwar France was an adaptation of a play by Arthur Schnitzler, the renowned Viennese playwright and novelist, whose views on the world of eros coincided with those of his contemporary Sigmund Freud. In 1933, Ophuls had successfully adapted Schnitzler’s play Liebelei, but the challenge of adapting Schnitzler’s Reigen (1897) was unique. Often translated as La Ronde (and this is the title of Ophuls’s film), a Reigen is a round dance. For Schnitzler, the round dance was a metaphor for a cycle of sexual encounters involving five men and five women, beginning and ending with a prostitute, and including the transmission of syphilis. Roundly censored for obscenity in Germany and Austria, it was the perfect vehicle for Ophuls to explore the mechanics of love and sexual attraction with his customary blend of cynicism and compassion.


Sexual Encounter Roulette Wheel Walk Away Deutsch Mark Film Project 
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© Simon Richter 2013

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  • Simon Richter

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