EL CLAVEL NEGRO (THE BLACK PIMPERNEL) (Ulf Hultberg, Denmark/Finland/Mexico/Sweden). 95 minutes. May 22, 9 pm, Bloor. Rating: N
A movie like The Black Pimpernel gives international co-productions a bad name. It takes an intriguing footnote to the Chilean coup of 1973 and renders it down into a bland Europudding in which actors deliver phonetic line readings of English dialogue while the musical score tells the audience how to feel.
That’s a shame, because this particular footnote is fascinating: Harald Edelstam, the Swedish ambassador to Chile, used a combination of diplomatic pressure and cast-iron cojones to keep some 1,300 people out of the reach of Pinochet’s bloodthirsty regime, in one instance by declaring the Cuban Embassy a Swedish protectorate.
If screenwriter Bob Foss had any interest in conveying the horror of the situation, or the psychic toll of Edelstam’s efforts – or if director Ulf Hultberg were interested in anything other than making sure his star, Michael Nyqvist, is lit for maximum gravitas – there might be a reason to sit through this clunker.