food in the arts


Dir: Nana Dzhordzadze/ Prod: Marc Ruscart/ Scrn: Irakli Kvirikadze/ Language: French and Russian with English Subtitles/ 1996/ 100 mins

This story begins in pre-Communist revolution Russia and follows the incredible adventures of French chef Pascal Ichac. Early in the film he meets Princess Cecilia Abachidze and the two travel through Russia together. His keen sense of taste and smell allow him to detect bombs; twice he smells gunpowder and manages to foil the plots of the revolutionary Zigmund Gogladze (Timur Kamkhadze) . Unfortunately, in doing so he manages to create a life-long enemy. Later, he settles down with Abachidze (Nino Kirtadze)  and opens his own restaurant in Georgia. During the Communist revolution he refuses to leave his restaurant and ends up being a servant to Gogladze. Gogladze eventually persuades Abachidze to marry him in return for promising to spare Ichac life. Ichac's servitude to Gogladze does not last; he serves him crow, resulting in the communist getting ill in front of his troops. After that incident Ichac lives in an attic and is brought meals by Abachidze until he dies.

Soviet comrade Zigmund is finally able to force his beloved Princess Cecilia Abachidze out of the house of great chef Pascal Ichak (Pierre Richard). Ah, but not out of his bed nor arms. Coming home one day, Zigmund hears them at it through the bedroom door. That's when, resonating on many different levels, he fetches a big pot of soup and gobbles it up in big spoonsful as he strides back and forth in front of that door, listening raptly to the sounds of pleasure just out of his reach.

Throughout this film one gets to watch Ichac both eat and prepare wonderful meals. One exceptional scene is when he is challenged to identify all the meats in a dish. Not only is he able to identify all of the meats, he is also able to tell that the liver used in the dish is bear liver. Another wonderful food scene occurs when he is showing a fellow gourmet the dishes in his kitchen. He gestures to the gourmet and tells him that the best dish is over here, and gestures to a pit. One of his assistants removes a sumptuous looking suckling pig. The food scenes in this film are fewer in number and less appetizing than those in Big Night, but they are certainly sufficient to qualify this as a food film

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