Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dream Factory: Bluebeard

Director: Catherine Breillat
Original release date: Arte 2009 (France)
US theatrical release: Strand Releasing 2010
US DVD release date: Strand Releasing 2010
Streaming: Netflix
Not Rated

Summary from Seen That: "An adaptation of the classic tale of a wealthy aristocrat with a blue beard."

Review: The narrative of Perrault's fairy tale is set in 17th century France here, where two sisters, Anne and Marie-Catherine, have recently lost their father.  The tale continues in much the same way as the original, with the younger sister marrying Bluebeard and discovering his secret chamber of horrors.

The narrative is framed by two sisters in the 1950's, Marie-Anne and Catherine, reading the story aloud in an attic chamber.  The younger is rather sassy, and, despite the pleas of her elder sister to stop reading the tale, she continues to read, the end result of which is tragic.

The entire film is rather understated, the performances of the leads muted.  To be perfectly honest, nothing in particular jumps out or demands a second viewing in order to parse together some meaning.  The telling of this timeless tale is very straightforward; no non-linear storytelling or juxtaposition of narratives to clearly delineate perceived parallels.  Nearly every scene with the 1950's sisters clearly depicts them reading the tale, save one.  In said scene, Catherine has reached the point in the story where Marie-Catherine enters the forbidden room to find bloody corpses hanging from the ceiling.  But, rather than the scene portraying Marie-Catherine in the room, it is Catherine that we see.  And it is this scene alone that emphasizes the parallels between Marie-Catherine and Catherine, so that when both lead those they love to tragedy, we recognize their similarities.

For those interested in fairy tale adaptations, it's a serviceable film; however, I would not go out of my way to watch it.

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