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DVD Review

DVD cover

Belle De Jour
The 50th Anniversary Edition


Starring: Catherine Deneuve and Jean Sorel
Distributor: StudioCanal
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 02 October 2017

Séverine Serizy is a young and beautiful housewife with an attentive and adoring husband. Intimacy between the two is difficult with Séverine often rejecting Pierre’s advances. Her husband cannot satisfy her sexually as Séverine hides the secret that she harbours fantasies about sadomasochism and bondage. Through a friend she leans of a high class brothel not far from her home and decides that this may represent the release from her sexual prison. She meets and starts to have an affair with one of the customers, Marcel, a young, local gangster. When Marcel becomes too enamoured of her he threatens to tell her husband and things quickly spiral out of control…

Belle de Jour (1967. 1 hr, 36 min, 26 sec) is a French surreal drama directed by Luis Buñuel who co-wrote the screenplay with Jean-Claude Carrière, from an original novel by Joseph Kesse. The film’s title is a play on the phrase Belle De Nuit, a lady of the night, a prostitute. The film stars Catherine Deneuve. Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli, Geneviève Page, Pierre Clémenti, Françoise Fabian, Macha Méril, Francisco Rabal and Georges Marchal.

Catherine Deneuve plays Séverine who takes up the role of Belle de Jour. The only reason that she is able to get away with her subterfuge is that she only works during the day when her husband is at work. Deneuve was always a beautiful woman and the film oozes style with a large portion of Deneuve's costumes being designed by Yves St. Laurent.

Although on the surface the film deals with a woman's desire to be subjugated, it is only through this subjugation that Belle finds the release she seeks. Her secret desire to engage in various perversions is given full rein in the up-market brothel where she caters for her client’s sexual tastes and in doing so realises her own fantasies.

The status quo is upset when Marcel, in a fit of jealousy, attempts to murder Belle's husband, succeeding only in crippling him. Belle is told that he will never walk again and, so she gives up her work in the brothel to nurse him. When a jealous friend tells Pierre of her secret life, Belle confesses everything. At this point her husband miraculously rises from his chair and when he asks who she is thinking of she replies that she is only thinking of Pierre.

There is a telling moment when the black carriage, with tinkering bells, passes below their apartment. This carriage had been associated with Belle’s sadomasochistic fantasies, so its inclusion here brings forth the thought that the whole film may have been just another fantasy playing in Belle’s head.

The film’s menu’s come in three languages, English, German and the original French as well as Dolby mono audio tracks in the same three languages. There are subtitles in English and German.

The film is presented with a 1:66 widescreen picture and the two DVD set comes with an impressive full-length audio track from Prof. P. W. Evans as well as a masterclass with Diego Brunel and Jean-Claude Carriere (57 min, 36 sec) the discussion ranges across all of Luis Buñuel’s work.

Disc two has more extras. The Last Script (1 hr, 33 min, 05 sec), A Story of Perversion or Emaciation (28 min, 17 sec) has Dr. Sylvain Mimoun discuss Belles sexual mores, especially shining a light on whether the her experience have a positive or negative effect on her. Interview with Jean-Claude Carriere (14 min, 44 sec) and lastly you have the Theatrical Trailer (1 min, 34 sec).


Charles Packer

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