They seek him here, they seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in Heaven, or is he in Hell, that dammed, elusive, Pimpernel.
In all the years, since the first time I saw Anthony Andrews as the Scarlet Pimpernel, I've never forgotten those words. Among my friends and I, we knew that line better than the seemingly ubiquitous "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife." from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice novel that we were forced to read. It was a line randomly brought into group conversations, and said loudly in unison followed by fits of laughter. We all knew that poem. To this day, I can't say what made that movie so attractive to us silly teenage girls, but it was, and today, I still think about it.
But, this isn't generally a movie blog, and to write about the story properly, I felt I should take things a bit farther and actually read the novel. I also found, very little to my surprise, that I enjoyed the book as much as the movie.
Baroness Orczy does a wonderful job in telling the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel, an elusive rescuer to French aristocrats awaiting their turn at the guillotine in the midst of the French Revolution. Meanwhile, back in England, Marguerite St. Just, also known as Lady Blakney, the wife of Sir Percy Blakney, is approached by A French officer to help discover the true identity of the Scarlet pimpernel. In exchange for her help, her brother, who has been accused for crimes against the revolution, might escape his own trip to guillotine. Marguerite feels she has no choice but to do as asked, and later discovers a plot during a party for one of the Pimpernel's men to meet him in a meeting room. She gives this information to the officer, but when he goes to the meeting room at the appointed time, he only finds Sir Percy stretched out asleep on the couch. Later, as Lady Blakney's suspicions arise, she investigates her husbands private office and discovers a seal bearing the Scarlet Pimpernel's sign. Has she unknowingly betrayed her husband? And, will she be able to save him from being condemned to the same death he works to rescue others from?
In a story of romance, adventure and fun, Baroness Orczy gives us a novel for the ages, that I personally, will never forget, (nor will I forget the memories that story has given me).
The Scarlet Pimpernel