The rise and fall of a shopgirl (Pola Negri in her screen debut) who became the mistress of Louis XV in her ruthless pursuit of wealth and influence, was a landmark in German cinema, and a runaway box office success internationally. Great care was taken with historical accuracy in both costuming and design but Lubitsch’s primary interest was in character, plot and spectacle not in historical reconstruction. Although attacked by Left critics for ignoring the social and political significance of the Revolution, Lubitsch was not apolitical in his approach either in this film or subsequently. He maintains an ironic detachment which allows for complexity of characterisation and in his own way here portrays the realities of wealth and power. This silent film is accompanied with English intertitles.
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