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Directed by Catherine Breillat
Produced in 2009
Main Language - French with English subtitles
Dominique Thomas, Lola Creton, Daphne Baiwir, Marilou Lopes-Benites, Lola Giovannetti
Marked by beautiful cinematography, Breillat's highly stylised retelling of Charles Perrault's fairy tale is an expert exercise in adaptation, says Mike Bartlett.
Once upon a time, Catherine Breillat seemed the great agent provocateur of French cinema, with explicit sex and feminist polemic her key weapons. So her move into fairy tale territory may come as a surprise to some.
But the story of Bluebeard, the infamous wife killer, allows her plenty of scope to develop her themes of gender conflict while immersing the viewer in a glorious never-never land of turreted castles and wild French countryside. Breillat also resurrects her familiar structure of two warring though eternally bonded “sisters”, here the impoverished daughters of a deceased nobleman who fall prey to Bluebeard's advances. But there are two other “sisters”, children reading the story in the 20th century, who provide an amusing commentary on the action with winningly naturalistic performances.
Vilko Filac's cinematography is the real star here, evoking the work of Nestor Almendros, and capturing the natural light of the region exquisitely. But Lola Creton is beautifully poised as Bluebeard's teenage bride, and the whole is a masterful exercise in adaptation, both a faithful reproduction of the tale and of its effect on the reader's imagination.
Michael Bartlett on 8th December 2011
Author of 26 reviews
Catherine Breillat's highly stylised retelling of Charles Perrault's fairy tale, Bluebeard weaves together two stories, each involving two sisters. In the first, set in the 1950s, Catherine torments her older sister Marie-Anne with readings of the scary tale of Bluebeard, the ogre who murders women and eats small children. In the second, another pair of sisters - Anne and Marie-Catherine (Lola Creton) - are seduced into Bluebeard's lair, where the beautiful and virginal Marie-Catherine becomes the ogre's last wife.
Publisher: New Wave Films
Length: 80 mins
Cat No: NW029
Format: DVD Colour