11 Ott «La Belle Dame Sans Merci» by Nikolay Bogomilov
“Let not my ruin come, nor death,
Through your great sweetness, destroy me,
Grant me your grace with every breath,
And that I live, you’ll guarantee.”
Quoting the 1424 poem by Alain Chartier, later taken up by John Keats in 1819, La Belle Dame Sans Merci envelops the viewer in a poignant historical drama of poetry, forbidden passion, and loss. In his latest fiction feature, director Nikolay Bogomilov brings a romantic tragedy out of time to life.
A pious young man studies in medieval France. He is different from the others and loves to write poetry, but he also has an impulsive side that, following a violent confrontation, forces him to seek refuge in a mystical forest. There he meets a woman and discovers love, and at the same time, Death herself manifests itself to him in the guise of an oriental beauty.
Enchanted by the beauty, but sensing an omen, the poet finds himself torn between desire and the search for spirituality as the seductions of Death itself emerge in his poems.
Supported by the performance of Vincent Molli, also involved in writing the project, in the role of the poet, the film evokes a palpable passion and loneliness. The encounter between his growing obsession with the Queen and the glimpses of mortality through visions of Death makes the descent into ruin very compelling.
Shot in the forests of Bulgaria, La Belle Dame Sans Merci casts a spell on viewers through exquisite attention to detail that sustains the ambitious production of a romantic historical drama.
The costumes and sets evoke a historical period of mystery and fascination, and the photography goes along with the passage of time in the landscapes, which adheres to the poet’s inner states. Many frames seem to be inspired by paintings, and ancient engravings that constitute a fascinating and tragic atmosphere.
The use of symbolism drawn from poetry infuses this vision of meanings on multiple narrative planes.
With lyrical writing and striking imagery, La Belle Dame Sans Merci keeps us in suspense over the fate of two ill-fated lovers until the very end, and not only fans of dark historical fantasies will be drawn to this darkly sensual tale.