A unique look at the history of 20th century France as illustrated in popular culture, Le Bal is set in a Parisian dance hall and features no narrative, no dialogue, and no continuous characters. The film moves from one dance number to the next, as the music reflects the political and cultural tenor of the times, from the Popular Front of 1936 to the German Occupation of World War II, on to the breezy openness of the post-war era and the open rebellion and turmoil of May 1968, and finally closing in the early 1980s. A troupe of dancers portrays all the film's characters, with make-up and costume changes (as well as appropriate period music) indicating the different time periods. Directed by Ettore Scola, Le Bal was based on a stage production that was a great success in Europe.
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