Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Best Actor 1937: Charles Boyer in Conquest

Charles Boyer received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Napoleon Bonaparte in Conquest.

Conquest simply does not work because the film does not set its tone well nor does really know what it is trying to do. It is the bad type of biography picture because it does not lay out a time frame, and it just seems to go nowhere special. Also Greta Garbo is surprisingly unspectacular in this film, and is actually thoroughly up shown by her male co-star.

Charles Boyer I must first say that he seems the perfect choice to play Napoleon Bonaparte. He just seems to fit that part perfectly and is technically perfect cast as him. I really am rather annoyed by this film actually, because it seems Boyer could have been a fantastic Napoleon in another film, but unfortunately he is held back by this version of Napoleon. Napoleon is portrayed in such a artificial way, and baseless fashion that no character development can really be achieved by Boyer. It is not that his character is inconsistent just the script never really gets inside Napoleon very well, it always stays at an odd distance that is a huge failure of the film.

I will say the way Boyer presents Napoleon in the way he talks and walks is well handled. I believed him as Napoleon, as he has the right command and control in the part. Also something else I was glad to see was that Boyer plays him with a little light humor, which actually does work well. I think his best scene and the best scene in the film is when he plays cards with an old woman who does not know who he is and is not aware of who he is either. It certainly is a funny scene do to Boyer's comedic timing, unfortunately this is the only scene like this and does not really correspond with the rest of the film. I think possibly if it had been a light comedic romantic portrayal of Napoleon it could have worked but alas.

His scenes with Garbo are not all that special due to the script, even though I think Boyer does a fine job nonetheless. He is properly romantic in his sort of odd Boyer sort of way that I think does work well for Napoleon. I do not think Garbo actually reciprocates that well, but Boyer still remains good. Napoleon is incredibly random character here since the movie is so random. Boyer tries to do what he can to be consistent but the movie is just too poorly directed. Since it lacks a focus Boyer has nothing to focus on but when he has the chance to shine he actually does, such as a brief scene with a dying soldier, in which Boyer is very effective. His final scenes are also fine but Boyer cannot make up for the bad writing. This simply is a performance that could have been great with better material, but instead is just good.

1 comment:

Sage Slowdive said...

He was okay, from what I remember.