I hadn´t seen the film for years. I´d forgotten how beautiful it is. Each frame a painting, as they say, filmed by Raoul Coutard. And each evocative, expressive, beautiful. But it´s 24 of them a second, part of a shot, often accompanied by dialogue or Georges Delerue´s beautiful score. And there´s Bardot, and Piccoli, and Jack Palance and Lang and Bazin and cinema as it once was, and even then in the process of becoming something else. I couldn´t stop myself from grabbing frames. It´s on MUBI.
A rather dull melodrama directed by Mario Bonnard, barely worth a look in except for the fact that it co-stars Brigitte Bardot and Lucia Bosé. It’s about two brothers, Austrian nobles, one is artistic and good and sides with Italy; the other is the kind who’d have his own brother killed and naturally sides with Germany. Bardot and Bosé, both extremely young and extremely beautiful, never appear together: a loss to cinema.
I’m here interested only in costuming, placement, attributions of character through visual associations. Bardot here is the good, sober, religious, child-loving, nursing and nurturing good woman, i.e the kind of role she’d stop playing as soon as she got any say. I here want to simply show a series of images, in chronological order, of how she’s presented in the film:
Brigitte Bardot, cast against what would later become her type, and exemplifying ‘eternal’ virtues :
Buttoned up and leading a choir
From choir to ball to marriage proposal
straight-laced, even in decolletée
braided, hatted, collared-up and married
With priest, baby, as a nurse, and near Jesus
In the country in peasant dress exemplifying the virtues of the countryside; in the middle, the virtuous and self-sacrificing mother; and, on the right, with priest, in lace, demonstrating forgiveness. She’s a Saint that Bardot.
Lucia Bosé: She’s a double-crossing spy in this one, in love with the man Bardot will marry and out for revenge. How can you tell she’s bad? She sings in a cabaret, she smokes, she’s draped in lots and lots of fur, adorned with feathers, and in public places women shouldn’t really be in, holding her own, looking beautiful, and smoking. It will all end in tears, but sad and glamorous ones.
What fool of a director was Bonnard to not give these two a single scene together? Two very limited, very stereotyped, and very sexist views of womanhood. And yet, not without their pleasures.But for whom?
A gorgeous restoration of a Clouzot classic. Bardot has killed the man she loves, who also happens to be her sister’s fiancée. But what she’s really on trial for is for being a woman, for being young and for being unconventional. It’s 1960 France that the film really judges and finds wanting. Clouzot fills the frame with dozens of pretentious hypocrites or figures of authority, condemning them all. Bardot, always at the centre, is a beacon of beauty, truth, and liberty. She accepts who she is, chooses to act in freedom, and takes responsibility for her action. Bardot’s Dominique Marceau is French Cinema’s greatest and most romantic existentialist heroine. Bardot in La verité is what people claim falsely for Brando in The Wild One. She and the film are both great.