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Rabu, 09 Maret 2011

La Prisonnière AKA Woman in Chains (1968) - Henri-Georges Clouzot

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Summary plot (from IMBD)

Stanislas Hassler blazes the development of modern art in his gallery, packed with works of surprising shapes, colours and textures, and where exhibitions turn into media events. Gilbert Moreau is one of the artists whose sculptures are on display in the gallery. His wife, Josée, is intrigued by the stern Stanislas, who devotes his free time to photography in an apartment that highlights his sophisticated artistic tastes. But besides enlarged pictures of calligraphic samples, Stanislas is amassing a collection of photographs that reveal a disturbed character. So why would Josée endanger her mature relationship with Gilbert for the morbid observation of Stanislas's hidden personality?

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Review (from Senses of cinema)

Clouzot's swan song was La Prisonnière (1968), a curious excursion into voyeurism and emotional game-playing, exploring a love triangle involving Gilbert, a kinetic artist (Bernard
Fresson), Josée, a film editor (Elisabeth Wiener) and Stanislas, a photographer/gallery owner (Laurent Terzieff). This was the only film Clouzot made entirely in colour, although he had been planning to shoot L'Enfer in a combination of B&W and colour to differentiate reality from lurid fantasy.

La Prisonnière is pure Clouzot thematically – a jealous wife is driven into the arms of a control freak photographer (something of a self-portrait for Clouzot) whose private library of S&M pictures both attracts and repels her. The film is shot quite classically for the most part, until it erupts into a long psychedelic sequence towards the end. At the opposite extreme it includes one spectacular, almost parodic scene by the seashore that looks likes something out of a Sunday supplement.

Although bleak, the film is not unsympathetic in its exploration of the three characters' motivations. Josée has been betrayed by her ambitious husband Gilbert. Lonely and under-appreciated, she makes the initial moves towards Stanislas, who is at first reluctant, due to his friendship with her husband, but succumbs when he sees her interest in his S&M photographs. Incapable of having a normal reciprocal relationship, he abandons her when he discovers she has fallen in love with him. Gilbert is then thrown into confusion when he discovers the truth about the affair, and the two men thrash around attempting to resolve the mess, while Josée, in despair, drives her car into the path of a train. They are all equally responsible for the outcome that sees Josée in hospital, calling out Stanislas' name, with her husband by her bedside. This ending seems to echo another quintessentially 1960s film, Richard Lester's Petulia (1968).

It would have been fascinating to see how Clouzot would have responded to the new permissiveness in what was allowed on screen, but after this he would restrict his work to television documentaries of orchestral performances, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, who ironically had also been associated with the Nazi regime.

Hitchcock wanted to explore the new sexual frankness with Kaleidoscope–Frenzy (a rapist/murderer on the loose in San Francisco) but the film was never produced due to its content of perversion and violence. It had parallels with La Prisonnière in its intended use of pop art imagery. Universal head Lou Wasserman believed it would damage the studio's reputation irreparably. Instead Hitchcock went on to make Frenzy (1972). Its one horrifyingly explicit murder scene is directed with such relish that it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth over 30 years later. While Hitchcock was pandering to his own worst instincts, Clouzot had gone to ground.

http://www.filesonic.com/file/182907591/La prisonniere 1968.DVDrip.avi
http://www.filesonic.com/file/182892591/La prisonniere 1968.DVDrip.EN.srt

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