Here is a Paul Verlaine poem, exquisitely read by the great Michel Bouquet, leading actor in this unforgettably, indelibly eloquent 1991 film Toto the Hero.
Lit by the fire of lighter fluid, the words arise with such intimacy one realizes that the only tone for poetry of this romantic depth should be that intimacy with which Bouquet shares his muted joy in Paul Verlaine’s vision.
Looking exactly like a replica of Laurence Olivier in his later years, Michel Bouquet and his reveries in Toto the Hero are so painfully beautiful and exquisitely agonizing that… well… the necessities within a true work of art, its Truth and Beauty, are pouring out of this film quite mercilessly.
During the reading, we see the young lovers as Bouquet imagines them. We also see the washing of what appears to be an old man’s body.
Is the body dead or just sleeping?
With such mysteries, we are led into an old man’s desire for revenge.
A bitter justice meted out to a childhood rival for the loss of everything this old man ever held dear.
And this? The joyful memories that may or may not have ever happened?
All our old man knows is that he was robbed of all that heavenly bliss by his childhood rival.
The journey that we the audience are taken on during Toto the Hero is so all-encompassing, from birth to mystic death… and the musical score… from fairy-tale simplicity to the yearning threnodies of lost love and back to childhood dreams?!
The Truth and Beauty of such a life carries the shattering electricity that runs between our earliest memories and our old age. Please watch the entire trailer.
Sadly, the whole film is not available on YouTube. It has been taken off by “interested parties.”
Whatever price the DVD of this film may be, it is more than worth it.
Toto the Hero contains fleeting images that provoke massively profound longings, feelings that swirl through these scenes, telling a story that makes Love itself the singular absolute of Life.
With that mandate in mind, one… this one at least… little, big and increasingly aged, 71-year-old Michael Moriarty, abandons himself totally to a tale that begins with a boyhood daydream and ends with a bitter vengeance that suddenly, miraculously and mysteriously turns into a self-sacrificing liberation.
The ultimate act of Love for Life that, at least for the length of a post-performance ecstasy, can carry you on the winged heels of this thought: despite millennia of appearance and evidence to the contrary, all of Life is somehow perfect.