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BERLINALE 2009 Panorama / France

Breillat takes on the ogre in Bluebeard


Breillat takes on the ogre in Bluebeard

"The story of Bluebeard, like all of Perrault’s stories, is just three pages long. But it is fertile ground for our imagination, and little girls like it: there is horror, as well as curiosity and pleasure," said Catherine Breillat in speaking of her latest work, Bluebeard [+see also:
film profile
. Her highly personal version of the famous fairy tale screened in the Panorama sidebar of the Berlinale.

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Through the eyes and imagination of two little girls (the young reader/director Catherine and her older sister), the film follows the orphan-victim who marries the ogre-murderer, and, after opening to the door to a room she is told never to enter – in which lie the bodies of Bluebeard’s slaughtered wives ― she saves herself and punishes Bluebeard for his crimes.

This re-interpretation of the fairy tale maintains all the themes dear to the director of the controversial Sex is Comedy and Romance: a sisterly bond, the exploration of sexuality (never explicit here) and relationships of power between men and women.

However, here the director’s usual provocations instead give way to an elegant and sophisticated narrative that in revealing two parallel stories, one which reflects the other, develops a progressive crescendo of terror and erotic tension, overturning the characters’ positions in the end.

The photography, which tends towards intense and cold colours, features beautiful tableaux vivants, the last of which pays obvious homage to the biblical subject of Judith and Holoferenes.

Bluebeard was produced by Flach Film and CB Films with financing from ARTE France, the National Film Centre, the Limousin Region and the Limousine Regional Film Commission, and is being sold internationally by France’s Pyramide International.

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(Translated from Italian)

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