In this beautifully mounted historical drama, Angelo Pardi (Olivier Martinez), an Italian soldier, is fleeing his country in 1832. After the fall of Napoleon, Austria is swooping down on Italy to take control of the nation, and like many patriots, Pardi is hoping to escape to France and fight for their freedom abroad rather than submit to Austrian rule. However, as Pardi discovers upon arival, an epidemic of cholera is sweeping the land, leaving death in its wake and causing most people to be fearful of strangers, who may well be infected. As he tries to outrun a trio of mercenaries who have been hired to take him back to Italy, he finds himself accused by a group of villagers of infecting their water supply. Trying to escape would-be captors on all sides and searching for refuge in a rainstorm, Pardi finds a house and takes shelter inside. Unknown to Pardi, Pauline (Juliette Binoche), the lady of the house, is at home, but to his pleasant surprise, she welcomes him cordially rather than sending him away. It seems that Pauline's husband is missing, and as she desperately wants to find him and Pardi needs to escape to friendlier circumstances, they travel together through the French countryside, hoping to avoid both the disease and the tragedy travelling in its wake. Reportedly the most expensive French production ever made at the time of its release, Le Hussard Sur Le Toit (released in the United States as The Horseman on the Roof) was nominated for ten Cesar Awards (the French Oscar); it won two, for Best Cinematography and Best Sound.
by Mark Deming synopsis
High Production Values