The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934 & 1982)

In both versions of The Scarlet Pimpernel, the character of Sir Percival “Percy” Blakeney is played with extravagance, pretentiousness, and much foppery. Because he moonlights as the heroic and very masculine Scarlet Pimpernel, and simply pretends to be Percy, another layer of theatricality is added to the movies. Especially set within the violence and horror of the French Revolution, the foppishness of the character becomes more obvious.

The over-the-top “campy” costumes of the french elite class demonstrates the “metaphor of life as theater” (Sontag 12) as does their separation from the reality around them. They are the “camp” within the seriousness of reality, clearly showing that “detachment is the prerogative of an elite” (Sontag 11).


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