You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Arthur Rimbaud

Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Malet

Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Malet

Alfred Bardey Jacques Bonnafe

Labatut Thierry Fremont

Lucereau Samuel Labarthe

Jeanne Bardey Florence Pernel

With: Cheik Doukoure, Jean-Paul Farre, Xavier Thiam, Emmanuelle Riva, Yan Epstein, Geoffrey Thiebault.

This epic biopic of the great 19th-century French poet covers the last decade in Arthur Rimbaud’s tortured life, as he wandered restlessly over much of the African continent. Unfortunately, Jean-Louis Benoit and Michel Favart’s script provides little insight into why Rimbaud forsook his poetry for the itinerant life of an explorer and hawker of saucepans, guns and cotton. As a result, this lengthy study is clearly destined to head quickly to the small screen, where it will pique interest in Europe and, to a lesser extent, in French Canada. English-speaking territories will be less curious.

Yarn begins in the early 1880s, with the 26-year-old Rimbaud (Laurent Malet) in the city of Aden on the banks of the Red Sea. Meeting French merchant Alfred Bardey (Jacques Bonnafe), he signs on for an expedition to what was then known as Abyssinia. Rimbaud and a motley crew of explorers set out across the desert, during which the ex-poet resolutely refuses to talk with his companions. They end up in the town of Harar, which is overrun by wild dogs, a state of affairs that seems to disturb Rimbaud greatly. He later poisons many of the dogs, to the dismay of the townsfolk.

He then meets a shady contraband arms dealer and they partner on a project to sell guns to a tribe further south. After more long scenes in the desert, they finally find the African tribe that’s supposed to purchase Rimbaud’s arms, but the king refuses to pay for the guns. A distraught, sick and depressed Rimbaud returns to Harar and eventually becomes so ill that he is sent back to Marseille for treatment. Pic ends with his death in a hospital there in 1891.

Malet has little to do as Rimbaud except look unhappy, withdrawn and enigmatic, and his refusal to communicate with almost anyone ensures that there’s little dramatic spark to the piece. Director Marc Riviere doesn’t seem able to decide if he’s making a period adventure pic or a psychological drama, and the pacing is mostly leaden.

The vast, barren landscapes are captured in suitably epic style by cinematographer Thomas Vamos, while Gabriel Yared’s score relies too heavily on over-dramatic flourishes.

Arthur Rimbaud

(FRENCH-CANADIAN)

Production: A France 2/Septembre Prods./CFP Prods./Cite-Amerique production, with the participation of Radio-Canada, Centre National de la Cinematographie, Telefilm Canada and Super Ecran. (International sales: SFP Distribution, Bry-sur-Marne, France.) Produced by Jean Nainchrik. Directed by Marc Riviere. Screenplay, Jean-Louis Benoit, Michel Favart. Camera (color), Thomas Vamos; editor, Robert Coursez; music, Gabriel Yared; costumes, Edith Vesperini; sound, Patrick Rousseau, Nami Cagani; associate producers, Eric Besnard, Michel Gauthier, Lorraine Richard. Reviewed at the Imperial Cinema, Montreal, Aug. 16, 1996. (In Montreal World Film Festival noncompeting.) Running time: 163 MIN.

More Film

  • 'Meeting Gorbachev' Review: Werner Herzog's Disappointingly

    Film Review: 'Meeting Gorbachev'

    Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Malet Alfred Bardey Jacques Bonnafe Labatut Thierry Fremont Lucereau Samuel Labarthe Jeanne Bardey Florence Pernel With: Cheik Doukoure, Jean-Paul Farre, Xavier Thiam, Emmanuelle Riva, Yan Epstein, Geoffrey Thiebault. This epic biopic of the great 19th-century French poet covers the last decade in Arthur Rimbaud’s tortured life, as he wandered restlessly over much […]

  • Michael Winship, President, Writers Guild of

    Former WGA East President Michael Winship Elected to Council Seat

    Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Malet Alfred Bardey Jacques Bonnafe Labatut Thierry Fremont Lucereau Samuel Labarthe Jeanne Bardey Florence Pernel With: Cheik Doukoure, Jean-Paul Farre, Xavier Thiam, Emmanuelle Riva, Yan Epstein, Geoffrey Thiebault. This epic biopic of the great 19th-century French poet covers the last decade in Arthur Rimbaud’s tortured life, as he wandered restlessly over much […]

  • 'Tea With the Dames' Review: A

    Film Review: 'Tea With the Dames'

    Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Malet Alfred Bardey Jacques Bonnafe Labatut Thierry Fremont Lucereau Samuel Labarthe Jeanne Bardey Florence Pernel With: Cheik Doukoure, Jean-Paul Farre, Xavier Thiam, Emmanuelle Riva, Yan Epstein, Geoffrey Thiebault. This epic biopic of the great 19th-century French poet covers the last decade in Arthur Rimbaud’s tortured life, as he wandered restlessly over much […]

  • Avatar

    Volume of Effects-Heavy Movies Threatens Perception of VFX

    Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Malet Alfred Bardey Jacques Bonnafe Labatut Thierry Fremont Lucereau Samuel Labarthe Jeanne Bardey Florence Pernel With: Cheik Doukoure, Jean-Paul Farre, Xavier Thiam, Emmanuelle Riva, Yan Epstein, Geoffrey Thiebault. This epic biopic of the great 19th-century French poet covers the last decade in Arthur Rimbaud’s tortured life, as he wandered restlessly over much […]

  • Roy Lee Jon Berg

    Lionsgate Developing Horror-Thriller Movie 'Cobweb' With Roy Lee, Jon Berg (EXCLUSIVE)

    Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Malet Alfred Bardey Jacques Bonnafe Labatut Thierry Fremont Lucereau Samuel Labarthe Jeanne Bardey Florence Pernel With: Cheik Doukoure, Jean-Paul Farre, Xavier Thiam, Emmanuelle Riva, Yan Epstein, Geoffrey Thiebault. This epic biopic of the great 19th-century French poet covers the last decade in Arthur Rimbaud’s tortured life, as he wandered restlessly over much […]

  • Venice Film Festival A Star is

    How Venice, Toronto and Telluride Festivals Stole Cannes' Luster (Column)

    Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Malet Alfred Bardey Jacques Bonnafe Labatut Thierry Fremont Lucereau Samuel Labarthe Jeanne Bardey Florence Pernel With: Cheik Doukoure, Jean-Paul Farre, Xavier Thiam, Emmanuelle Riva, Yan Epstein, Geoffrey Thiebault. This epic biopic of the great 19th-century French poet covers the last decade in Arthur Rimbaud’s tortured life, as he wandered restlessly over much […]

  • Cary Joji Fukunaga: An Ideal Choice

    Cary Joji Fukunaga Can Bring the Human Factor Back to James Bond

    Arthur Rimbaud Laurent Malet Alfred Bardey Jacques Bonnafe Labatut Thierry Fremont Lucereau Samuel Labarthe Jeanne Bardey Florence Pernel With: Cheik Doukoure, Jean-Paul Farre, Xavier Thiam, Emmanuelle Riva, Yan Epstein, Geoffrey Thiebault. This epic biopic of the great 19th-century French poet covers the last decade in Arthur Rimbaud’s tortured life, as he wandered restlessly over much […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content