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Valmont (film)

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Title: Valmont (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Miloš Forman, Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Dangerous Liaisons, Siân Phillips, Vincent Schiavelli, Colin Firth, 1990 in film, 1989 in film, Fairuza Balk, Orion Pictures
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Valmont (film)

Directed by Miloš Forman
Produced by Michael Hausman
Paul Rassam
Written by Jean-Claude Carrière
Miloš Forman
Starring Colin Firth
Annette Bening
Meg Tilly
Music by Christopher Palmer
Cinematography Miroslav Ondříček
Editing by Nena Danevic
Alan Heim
Distributed by Orion
Release date(s)Template:Plainlist
Running time 137 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$33,000,000 (estimated)
Box office $1,132,112[1]

Valmont is a 1989 drama film directed by Miloš Forman, based on the French novel Les Liaisons dangereuses (1782) by Choderlos de Laclos. It was adapted for the screen with a screenplay by Jean-Claude Carrière. The film stars Colin Firth, Annette Bening and Meg Tilly.

Valmont received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design (Theodor Pištěk).


Merteuil (Annette Bening), a beautiful, wealthy widow in society, discovers that her secret lover Gercourt (Jeffrey Jones) is betrothed. She learns from her cousin Madame de Volanges (Siân Phillips) that Gercourt's new fiancée is none other than Volanges' 15-year-old daughter Cecile (Fairuza Balk). Volanges confides in Merteuil that Gercourt chose Cecile as she was raised in a convent to keep her chaste before marriage. Volanges also admits there were worries over the betrothal, as people were discussing Gercourt's former mistress's sanity.

Angered over the loss of her lover and his slight of her character, Merteuil plots to deface Cecile's virtue by having her friend Valmont (Colin Firth) seduce Cecile. Valmont declines Merteuil's request because he is trying to lure Madame de Tourvel (Meg Tilly), a married guest of his aunt who is staying in the country while her husband is abroad. Merteuil chides Valmont for his effort, and they make a wager: if Valmont succeeds in bedding Madame de Tourvel, he may bed Merteuil; if he fails, he must join a monastery.

Although Merteuil does not have the charming libertine Valmont for assistance, she learns Cecile's music teacher, Danceny (Henry Thomas), has been writing love letters to Cecile. Merteuil learns in confidence from Cecile that she loves Danceny.

Merteuil convinces her cousin to allow Cecile to join her in the country while helping Cecile write secret love letters to Danceny. The two of them join Valmont at his aunt's residence where he playfully flirts with Cecile. At the same time, Valmont is unsuccessful at his numerous attempts at wooing Tourvel. Someone has warned Tourvel of his sexual scheming and debauchery and Tourvel flees to the city to get away from Valmont's attempts to seduce her. Merteuil suggests Valmont should help Cecile write a letter and Valmont takes Cecile's virginity. When Cecile confides in Merteuil, Merteuil encourages her young cousin to marry Gercourt and keep Danceny as her lover.

Valmont goes to Tourvel and she returns his affections. In the morning she leaves for the market to prepare a meal for him but Valmont decides not to stay and goes to collect his prize from Merteuil. Merteuil refuses to honor her wager and Valmont leaves in a fury.

Valmont convinces Cecile to write Danceny explaining that Merteuil encourages Cecile to marry Gercourt and keep Danceny as her lover.

Tourvel later comes to Valmont and spends the night, leaving before he wakes the next morning.

Upon reading the letter, Danceny visits Merteuil. He has her compose a letter and threatens her. During this, Valmont visits Merteuil—who reveals she has herself seduced Danceny. Merteuil explains that she has informed Danceny of Valmont's treachery with respect to Cecile.

Danceny challenges Valmont to a duel set for the following morning. Valmont decides to drink himself to a stupor before the duel, allowing himself to be slain by Danceny.

Cecile discovers she is pregnant with Valmont's child. His aunt is overjoyed when Cecile shares her news. The film ends with Cecile's wedding to Gercourt with Merteuil watching on alone.

Missing scenes on region 1 DVD

The Region 1 DVD released in 2002 by MGM is missing a short sequence after Valmont wakes alone from his last night with Tourvel. In the sequence, Valmont takes flowers to Tourvel's home later the same day, but on arrival discovers that she is back with her husband. Unseen by either, he leaves the flowers on her bed before heading off to confront Merteuil. The sequence is included in the 2000 MGM VHS release, and is also in the high-definition transfer shown on MGM HD.[2]

According to user comments at IMDb the sequence is included on foreign DVD releases;[3] and, according to the fullscreen Region 4 DVD is one minute longer than the widescreen Region 1 DVD.[4][5]

Variance from source text

The script of Valmont differs significantly from the text. In Laclos's novel, Cecile is raped by Valmont and suffers a miscarriage; in Valmont she is seduced willingly (the script goes so far as to have the character confirm that she enjoyed the encounter) and is pregnant at her wedding. The letters between Valmont and Merteuil that lead to Merteuil's downfall in the novel are not mentioned in the film; Merteuil has no downfall except in the eyes of Cecile and her mother. She also does not suffer from the physical disfigurement described by Laclos in the denouement. Madame de Tourvel's future is less tragic; instead of dying of a broken heart, she returns to her forgiving and understanding older husband.


See also


Valmont received mixed-to-positive reviews, and received a Metacritic score of 55.[6] The film was not as highly acclaimed as Dangerous Liaisons, which was released less than a year earlier. The film received praise from Roger Ebert, who rated it three-and-a-half stars.[7][8][9][10]

Box office

The movie was released on limited release.[11]


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • AllRovi
  • Rotten Tomatoes
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