Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Italy, 1982. Accent Films B.V., RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana. Screenplay by Franco Zeffirelli, based on the libretto by Francesco Maria Piave and the novel La Dame Aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas fils. Cinematography by Ennio Guarnieri. Produced by Tarak Ben Ammar. Production Design by Franco Zeffirelli. Costume Design by Piero Tosi. Film Editing by Franca Silvi, Peter Taylor. Academy Awards 1982. Golden Globe Awards 1982. National Board of Review Awards 1983.
Classic stage operas rarely make the transition to the screen comfortably, but this handsomely mounted production by Franco Zeffirelli is one of those exceptions that prove the rule. Verdi’s musical score sounds lush and grand as Plácido Domingo and Teresa Stratas play the doomed lovers who, thanks to divisions of class and general snobbery, are not allowed to be together. He is a wealthy man and she a courtesan, and though he loves her terribly she decides to give in to his father’s request and stay out of the young man’s way in order to not ruin his future. Naturally, corsets and consumption are involved, but not without a few great arias before it ends! The story is based on La Dame Aux Camelias (known more colloquially as Camille to English speakers) by Alexandre Dumas (Jr.).