Friday, June 6, 2008

Belle de jour

Belle de jour (1967)
Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel was a Spanish filmmaker who started making films at the age of 29. His first project was a surrealist short that he co-wrote with Salvador Dali Un chien andalou (1929). His next film was L'Âge d'or (1930). L'Âge d'or was his first full lenght feature and with this film he set a precedence for what surrealism meant to cinema by filling the film with symbolism, juxtapositions of images, attacks against catholicism and the bourgeois class.

I want to note that André Breton, the leader of the original surrealist movement in the 1920s, wrote this manifesto to describe surrealism.

Surrealism as,
Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express -- verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner -- the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.

Bunuel who started out with the antiplot structure to his films changed towards a miniplot narrative in his later years. His earlier work was full of symbolism which gave it its surreal quality while tith Belle de Jour he shows the surrealism of realism with Séverine consciousness as its primary source. The whole film revolves not so much on the life of Séverine (Played by Catherine Deneuve) but on her thoughts and feelings. She is the typical bourgeoise that Bunuel mocks and when she gets bored with her husband, she decides to go work in brothel during the day, that is where the name of the film comes from, she calls herself Belle de Jour.

Catherine Deneuve who recently won the Prize of the 61st Festival de Cannes ex-aequo was 24 when she took on this role. She plays a great Séverine, she is thrilling and looks great. Bunuel shots of her included close up of her feet, nude and in chic outfits. Its worth noting that she is dressed in Yves Saint Laurent. Yves Saint Laurent (August 1, 1936 – June 1, 2008) is one of the best known french fashion designer and he has jus recently passed away and Catherine Deneuve was one of his muses.

What I find really makes this film great is how it interweaves dream sequences, thoughts, conciousness and reality all into one without any explanation. an openness to explore Séverine subconcious appreciation of ringing bells and cat noises, a exploration of her childhood experience and her desire for adventure. The ending i thought was superb. Her husband has just come to terms with what Séverine has been doing and we see him crying in his wheelchair. She sits down and watches him cry then he gets up and tells her that everything will be ok. There is a subtle transition from reality to thought. The movie ends, Séverine is happy.

1 comment:

1VAGABOND said...

That's the first movie I saw by him and then, around a week later, I watched Le Fantôme de la liberté. If you haven't seen it you really should, it's his anti-movie. "J'en ai marre de la symétrie!"