Saturday, January 12, 2008


Had to see this movie and I tell you it puzzles me how two movies based on the same story can be totally different, it is truly amazing. This Lucile Hadzihalilovic film is a beautiful, slow paced, art house, with great acting and spectacular cinematography, while the John Irvin movie is totally trash.

The movie tells the story of a boarding school for girls aged between 6 and 12 that mysteriously arrive to the school that has a central house and five surrounding houses in what it looks like a park. Each house has five girls each of a different age wearing a distinctive color ribbon in their heads to identify her age group. The eldest is in charge of the younger arrival showing her how the house works and the classes she has to attend. As the movie develops you will see that is a school but also a prison as they cannot leave and have to follow orders with unquestionable obedience. Eventually the purple ribbon girls have to leave the school and join the world.

This is a typical French movie that is very ambiguous with the viewer filling the gaps and the answers to everything that the viewer feels is suggested or left to their imagination. But it is very poetic with outstanding cinematography that plays with many techniques, like the beginning with what looks like a series of photography’s more than moving pictures or the spectacular water and nature scenes with some scenes really recalling Tarkovsky.

Hadzihalilovic directorial debut was inspired in Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock and L”Esprit de la Ruche by Victor Erice and I’m including this reference so you can imagine how different this movie is from The Fine Art of Love: Mine Ha-Ha. Interesting is to find that Dario Argento’s Suspira is also based on Wedekind novel.

Most interesting was finding here a young Marion Cotillard playing one of the two teachers in charge of the girls ballet classes. She has a good performance as well as Hélènede Fougerolles, but the best acting goes to the young girls Bianca (Bérangère Haubruge) and Iris (Zoé Auclair).

Now I’m really curious about the original novella by Frank Wedekind but found that is only available in German and my German is really poor to be reading what it seems like complex symbolist writings, so I’ll be waiting for someone to translate it to other language.

The movie won many awards for Lucile Hadzihalilovic in European festivals including the Best New Director at the 2004 San Sebastian International Film Festival; also, Benoît Debie won the Best Cinematography award in the 2004 Stockholm Film Festival.

Not for all audiences you have to really enjoy French movies, art movies and have to have an open mind as if you read the many reviews from America you will find that most critics and viewers see what their conservative society and education makes them see as they relate it to child pornography. I couldn’t believe my eyes when reading their comments as this story and movie is a parable to puberty and nothing more.


No comments yet