directed by Catherine Breillat (2009)
I have been curious about the work of controversial Frenchwoman Catherine Breillat for some time and was excited to find her Bluebeard available on Netflix. (This may be one of her less controversial films with none of the uncomfortable sex scenes I anticipated – but warning for the squeamish – there is a chicken with it’s head cut off scene).
As you can see by the stills, this film is gorgeous. Any fan of cinematography or photography will be smitten. And the costumes! If you’ve ever been to the Renaissance Faire and wondered what it would look like if everyone there was as fashionable as you, then you must see this movie. The many ways floor length can look incredible in the out of doors is alone worth a viewing.
But beyond the aesthetics, this is an interesting take on the traditional Bluebeard tale. With a stylized telling of the gory fairytale juxtaposed with two gingham pinafore dressed sisters in an attic reading the tale, Breillat is clearly but subtly capturing the uniquely female experience of being a young girl: When you are dimly aware of sexuality and adulthood, with impressions of love and death, but still a child at heart. A phenomenon described in the film as having the innocence of a dove but the pride of an eagle.
On the fairytale side, two striking young girls become fatherless and the younger one is married off the the ogre of a man, Bluebeard. Not since Lord of the Rings has desperate size been as effectively used on screen. The bride is as tiny as a bird, whereas Bluebeard, in a feat of perfect casting is hulking and gently monstrous.
The other narrative features bickering sisters who, as only sisters can, fight as they cuddle and scare themselves with the bloody story. Something surreal happens in this narrative, but without spoilers, I’d argue that is may not have really happened (if you watch it, maybe we can discuss.)
Between this and recent Brixpick, The White Ribbon, I sense there is something quite remarkable and fascinating going on with the period piece movie in global cinema. If only Hollywood could get so inventive and artistic with theirs – I can’t tell you how boring it all is to see the same corset blandness season after season.