Monday, December 22, 2008

Le Rempart des Béguines (The Beguines)

Definitively a film that today will raise eyebrows in many as even when has good performances for 1974 (still remember many French movies from that decade and the style is very similar), today it looks very dramatic and many scenes look unfinished, like if the film is missing continuity. But, I have to say that the movie tells an interesting story about what women can do to hush what other people think about them, or if you wish, how to live in a small town according to the social rules.

Based on the 1951 scandalous novel by Françoise Mallet-Joris (she was 19-years-old when she wrote it) this Guy Casaril film tells about 15-year-old Helene that falls for thirty something Tamara, her father’s mistress. But Tamara has a bad reputation as she’s divorced and she’s yearning for respect from others. A sadomasochist relationship develops when Tamara forces Helene to tell her father that they know each other and Helene not complying the request. As the s/m relationship evolves Tamara gains total control over young Helene. But when the father decides to marry Tamara, Helene regains control of her life even if her love is still alive. But actually for me this is a story about social climbers and deceitful characters.

I know the story seems terrible and well thanks to the movie style images can be a little worst than what it sounds. But definitively is one movie that many that read this blog have to see, especially if you enjoy French cinema. What this movie really did to me was get me interested in reading the 1951 novel and if you’re interested too, please take note that in English was published with three different titles: The Illusionist, Into the Labyrinth and The Loving and the Daring.

To read a brief analysis of this movie check the book Sapphism on Screen: Lesbian Desire in French and Francophone Cinema by Lucille Cairns, pages 58 and 59 (Published in English by Edinburgh University Press) or go here and browse the book to also uncover the most amazing source of French movies that some have become a must be seen for me.

Somehow I imagine that for today this movie is not an easy to watch movie mainly because the movie style, the performances and the story that today seems not that real. So, for those that dare to watch it, I suggest you transport to the 50’s and perhaps the story will seem more plausible.

I have to truly thank a European friend for facilitating me to see this movie and I’m very glad that our little experiment with the mail worked. Many thanks!!!


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