Foreign film series continues with Kind Hearts

Louis Mazzini follows his uncle, the Duke of D’Ascoyne, out hunting but refuses to participate because his “Principles will not allow [him] to take part in blood sports.” This is just after Mazzini killed off five of his relatives and while he was plotting the death of his uncle. This is one of the many elements of dark comedy present in Kind Hearts and Coronets.

Kind Hearts and Coronets starred Dennis Price as Louis Mazzini and Alec Guinness who played all eight members of the D’Ascoyne family. The camera panning to the collected D’Ascoyne family was something akin to the scene of Lieutenant Dan’s proud military history in Forrest Gump.

The story follows Louis Mazzini, a distance heir to the D’Ascoyne duchy. It opens the eve of Louis’ execution in his cell where he writes his memoirs. The recollections start at his birth and serve as the plot’s narrative.

The memoirs begin at his birth and the sub sequential-somewhat Monty Python-esque-death of his father. It follows the darkly comedic life of the disinherited D’Ascoyne and his plot to kill off his relatives. To hack off the limbs of his family tree, Louis’s weapons range from gunpowder disguised as caviar to dropping a hot-air balloon out of the air.

Woven within the amoral plots and parricide is a love triangle between the manipulative Sibella, played by Joan Greenwood, and one of his victim’s widows. Sibella first appears as a capricious, little girl, but eventually shows herself to be just as cunning and deceitful as Mazzini. Near the end, Sibella and Mazzini have an exchange in which she reveals herself as a very manipulative character.

Dennis Price made this movie worth watching with his dry humor and talent for delivering lines. The appeal of Guinness in his role(s) wasn’t his talent as an actor, but the visual humor as he takes on different roles. The D’Ascoyne dynasty are caricatures of royalty who are either frivolous and self-serving, needlessly politically active or disdainful of the lower class.

The movie was a fun comedy more interested in getting laughs than being didactic. Any jokes directed towards British aristocracy were light hearted. Those familiar or fans of the Monty Python sketches would love Kind Hearts and Coronets.

Tonight at 3:30 and 7 p.m., Dr. Pease will be showing the Spanish film, The Spirit of the Beehive. Victor Erice directs this 1978 film about a young girl in rural Spain who drifts in and out of fantasy after watching Frankenstein. As always, many professors are offering extra credit for attendance, and there are just four more weeks in the series.

The film series is continuing every Tuesday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. in the Evans Complex room 105. All students and faculty are invited to attend. This weekly event a vital part of our university and those who attend are better educated when they leave.

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