CINÉ-HISTOIRE is where film history and historical film meet. Cinéma du Musée proudly presents its new thematic series: five historical films showcasing one filmmaker, film era or topic. Each screening will be preceded by a brief introductory presentation and followed by a discussion led by an historian.

Recreating the past, making history, calls for skill, knowledge, and an attention to detail far beyond what is required for mere “costume dramas.” Screenwriters and film directors must be as meticulous as historians, analyzing every facet of history as they reconstruct the lives of complex characters often caught up in moral dilemmas. Only the greatest historical films are able to recreate the strangeness of the past while addressing themes that are both timeless and universal.

>The 18th century on screen

Both European and North-American film-makers have shown a particular fondness for the 18th century over the years. This period has provided the setting for many an archetypal “costume drama.” Onscreen, it was often repeated, it served no other purpose than that of a picturesque backdrop. Period films were fuelled by nostalgia for the art de vivre that had disappeared with pre-industrial nobility. Historical cinema provided the perfect pretext for displays of wit, billowing capes, and fancy sword work.

In our latest series, we propose to go beyond mere bravado, adventure, and sharper-than-knives dialogue—though the films provide plenty of each. Every piece in the series is a visually stunning work of art. Each is founded on the seduction of its wordplay; on words that cement bonds or, on the contrary, sever ties; on language that is at times sincere, though often deceitful, and always dangerous.

But interspersed among the words are the silences—so exquisitely interpreted—and the pervading sense of sacrifice that so profoundly influenced 18th-century sensibility. Silence is never inaction. It is a portent, a tipping point, a sign of impending doom.