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CHEVALIER

What You Need To Know:

CHEVALIER is a historical drama about a mixed-race classical composer, Joseph Bologne, who becomes a close friend of Queen Marie Antoinette in France before the French Revolution. An excellent swordsman, Joseph is made a Chevalier, the French word for knight, and a member of the royal guard. Joseph becomes a popular composer and violin virtuoso. He also has a torrid affair with a woman married to a powerful general. When racism prevents Joseph becoming the Paris Opera’s lead conductor in 1776, he burns his bridges with the Queen and sympathizes with the monarchy’s opponents.

Set mostly between 1770 to 1779, CHEVALIER lusciously recreates the style of the period. Also, the acting is excellent. However, the title character is conceited, prideful and a flagrant adulterer. He has no problem siding with the white aristocracy when it caters to him, but when it stops giving him what he wants, he turns on them. So, his character is rather off-putting. CHEVALIER also ultimately endorses the “revolutionary spirit” of the French Revolution, an ultra-violent atheist, leftist political movement that slaughtered nearly one point five million people.

Content:

(RoRoRo, PCPCPC, RHRHRH, CoCoCo, L, VV, SS, N, A, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong Romantic, politically correct worldview that ultimately promotes a modern Neo-Marxist historical perspective and revisionist history on the period in France before the French Revolution (movie ends in 1779 or 1780, 10 years before the actual Revolution broke out) that favors Critical Race Theory, a Marxist ideology, though much of the historical facts seem accurate (the problem is mostly in the movie’s dialogue and characterizations, which seem to favor CRT racial sentiments), but the movie also favors the basic political impulses behind the French Revolution, the first leftwing rebellion leading to mass murder, so although the movie doesn’t overtly endorse any violence or mass murder, it avoids the issue of the horrors and tyranny that the French Revolution ended up producing

Foul Language:
Four obscenities (including one “f” word), one strong profanity and one light profanity

Violence:
Strong violence when there’s a swordfight, and the loser gets stabbed in his torso (there’s some blood), and when a man is beaten up by several thugs but he isn’t killed

Sex:
Partially depicted adultery, three scenes of implied adulterous sex, adulterous kissing, and unmarried man lies in bed with married woman in one scene, plus some light sexual innuendo because the title character is said to be popular with the ladies

Nudity:
Upper male nudity in two scenes and some female cleavage

Alcohol Use:
Some alcohol use

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking or drugs; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Racism, lying, title character is rather selfish and conceited, woman disobeys her husband who doesn’t want her performing in an opera, older woman seeks revenge against mixed race title character who rebuffed her seduction attempts, and she uses a racist argument for hurting his career at a major point.

More Detail:

CHEVALIER is a historical drama about a mixed-race classical composer, Joseph Bologne, who becomes a close friend of Queen Marie Antoinette in France before the French Revolution and has an affair with a noblewoman married to a powerful general but runs afoul of racial politics and burns all his fancy bridges when the nobility refuses to let him run the Paris Opera. Set mostly in 1770 to 1779, CHEVALIER almost perfectly recreates the style of the period and has some excellent acting, but the title character is rather conceited and a flagrant adulterer, and thus off-putting, and the movie ultimately endorses the “revolutionary spirit” of the French Revolution, an ultra-violent atheist, leftist political movement that was the precursor of the brutal leftist revolutions of the 20th Century and today’s atheist, radical left movements like Critical Race Theory.

Despite a flashback depicting Joseph from 7-15, the movie clearly condenses a period in Joseph Bologne’s life, from 1761 to 1779, when he was 16- to 34-years-old. The movie begins with a fictionalized account, set in about 1778, where a 33-year-old Joseph interrupts a concert by Mozart, the famous composer, who would have been 22 at the time. Both men play the violin, but Joseph is clearly the more accomplished violinist, so Mozart storms off in huff.

Cut to 1753, where Joseph’s white father, Georges, drops the young boy off at an elite Jesuit boarding school in France. Joseph is a child prodigy who excels at playing the violin. A montage shows him honing his musical skills and becoming an expert swordsman in fencing at another academic school, despite receiving some hostility from the young rich white French noblemen who attend the schools.

In 1761, the real-life Joseph Bologne defeated an older famous swordsman who called him an “upstart mulatto.” The movie moves this incident to later so that King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, can give Joseph the French title of “Chevalier,” a French term for knight, and dub him “Chevalier de Saint-Georges” (Saint-Georges was one of his father’s plantations in the West Indies). Though he was married at the time of Joseph’s conception, Joseph’s father had had an affair with a 16-year-old black slave named Nanon.

Joseph becomes fast friends with the young Queen, who, being Austrian, is somewhat of an outcast herself. A ladies’ man, Joseph becomes a prize catch at the royal court, despite his skin color. However, at a fancy party, he rebuffs an older woman, Marie-Madeleine, who sings and dances at the Paris Opera.

Eventually, in 1776, after several acclaimed compositions and orchestral assignments, Joseph tells the Queen he really wants to become the musical conductor of the Paris Opera. His main competition is a famous German conductor who had taught the Queen music when she was younger. Joseph suggests to the Queen that they have a contest to determine who wins the position. Both men will write an opera and have it performed, and the best composer and conductor will win the position. The Queen agrees. (There is no historical record of such a contest, or that the German composer was in the running to become the official conductor of the Paris Opera.)

Joseph finishes writing the opera and holds auditions for the female lead. He turns down the older lady he earlier rebuffed and settles on a young woman named Marie-Josephine, who’s married to a powerful general. The general refuses to let Marie to act or perform. However, when he has to leave for a long-term military assignment, Marie and Joseph go behind his back. This leads to a torrid affair between them. Their plans for the opera and Joseph’s dream of conducting the Paris Opera are destroyed, however, when members of the Paris Opera, led by Marie-Madeleine, sign a petition where they refuse to work under a black man, even if he is a popular famous composer and musician. So, the Queen gives the position to the German composer.

Joseph, who up to now has developed a conceited attitude of entitlement and privilege, lashes out at the royal court, including the Queen. In doing so, he loses much of his prestige. Filled with ingratitude, Joseph decides to join, 10 years before the French Revolution in 1789, the growing political opposition to the feckless monarchy, which is beginning to have problems handling all the many social, economic, agricultural crises beginning to plague France.

Eventually, there’s a showdown between Joseph and his mistress’ husband, who returns to Paris to quell the new unrest.

CHEVALIER lusciously recreates the style of the period. It also has some excellent acting by Kelvin Harrison, Jr., in the title role, Emily Boynton as the Queen, Samara Weaving as the mistress, and Martin Csokas as her husband. However, the title character is conceited, prideful and a flagrant adulterer. So, his character is rather off-putting. In fact, his mother, who eventually travels to Paris to be with her son, derisively says he looks like “a rich white boy” in his fancy clothes. Consequently, why should viewers care whether this guy gets to conduct the Paris Opera or not?

To top it off, instead of adopting some humility and personal courage in the face of defeat, the title character acts like a spoiled child full of self-righteous ingratitude and resentment because the “evil rich white people” refuse to cater to him any longer. He even throws a temper tantrum. All this actually dilutes the movie’s criticism of the white aristocracy in Pre-Revolutionary France. The title character has no problem siding with the white aristocracy when it caters to him, but when it stops giving him what he wants, he turns on them. Loyalty is a two-way street, buddy!

The movie stops at 1779 and doesn’t go on to Joseph’s later musical career nor his later support for the French Revolution, which included a brief military stint in 1792 in the French Revolutionary Army, where he defended the city of Lille from the Austrian Army. Nor does it portray his military exploits against slavery in the West Indies in 1796 and 1797. After returning to Paris and performing a series of concerts at the former Palais Royal, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, died of gangrene on June 12, 1799.

Though the movie doesn’t deal with Joseph’s eventual support for the French Revolution, it pays homage to the spirit of radical revolution that led up to it. Thus, the movie shows Joseph becoming friends with the new radical critics of French society, especially the monarchy, in 1789. In doing so, it’s portrayal of upper class French society, including its portrayal of Joseph’s white father, is unfairly negative. For example, in reality, Joseph’s white father actually took Joseph’s mother to be with Joseph in 1755, much earlier than the movie says. Joseph and his mother lived in a spacious apartment together in Paris, and the father apparently still had a strong positive relationship with them and didn’t return to the West Indies until nine years later. The movie, however, shows Joseph being taken away forcibly from his mother in 1753 and not seeing her son until he’s an adult.

Sadly, the French Revolution ended up creating an Anti-Christian bloodbath. By 1802, the French Revolution had slaughtered 1.4 million people, including many priests and Christians. Among those victims were the victims of the first modern genocide, which occurred in 1793 in France when the National Convention, the Revolution’s third attempt at a legislature, ordered the total destruction of the Pro-Catholic Vendée region in France (the genocidal massacre killed an estimated 117,000 to 400,00 people, including mothers and their children). The Napoleonic Wars that followed the Revolution killed another six million people. Finally, in 1914, during World War I, the same revolutionary elements in France, assisted by the Masonic lodges, “ensured that units from the most Catholic regions of France were the first to be herded towards the German machine-guns” (Gerald Warner, “The French Revolutionary myth is founded on genocidal atrocity,” REACTION, 08/11/21, The French Revolutionary myth is founded on genocidal atrocity – Reaction). Tragically, Joseph Bologne was part of that terrible legacy.

CHEVALIER, the movie, seems to endorse the Radical Left’s awful, rose-colored revisionist history of the French Revolution, the foundation of the “French Republic.” In doing so, it also seems to endorse the hate-filled Anti-Christian, Marxist revisionist history of today’s leftists, including the racist “Critical Race Theory” that’s overtaken America’s schools, universities, the press, and mass media of entertainment. CRT is part of this leftist revisionist history the movie seems to endorse. Viewers should not let themselves be fooled by the simplistic attacks on racism and feckless white people in CHEVALIER. Not all attacks on racism are created equal, morally speaking.

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.