Buñuel blog-a-thon: Belle de Jour

And now, for my contribution to Flickhead's Buñuel-a-thon:

The title "Belle de Jour" is a strange one, and can be interpreted in many ways. The official explanation is that a "belle de jour" is a day lily, a flower that blooms only during the day, but I always associate "Belle de jour" almost automatically with its complement, 'Laide de Nuit'. The title can be translated as "beauty of the day", but also as "beautiful by day", and thus maybe implicitly ugly by night?

The interesting thing is that Séverine is a prostitute during the day, a well-mannered (though apparently frigid) BCBG woman during the night. According to the rules of society, the former is ugly, the latter "beautiful", but if you interpret the name as I do, could it not be the opposite? Might it be that Buñuel is trying to say that's it's not her work in the brothel that's wrong, her masochistic desires, but just her repression of those desires, her lies and pretense?

Buñuel invites us to be a voyeur in this film, to watch the pristine Catherine Deneuve get defiled, and we enjoy it. Are even aroused by it to some extent. The brilliance of the film, in my opinion, is that he never tells us how to feel, not just about Séverine, but also about our own feelings. I like to think that he's on her side, that all he blames her for is her shame, but it's equally possible to look at the film as a cautionary tale about what happens when you don't restrain yourself.

I think the first interpretation is more plausible, though. See, he does stack the deck a little. Just watch the look on her face. It's almost impossible not to envy her in that moment.

Nobody knew how to give the finger to the repressed bourgeoisie quite like Buñuel. And even 40 years later, few films have dared to be this sexy and provocative.

For a more straight-up review, I've recently written one here. In Dutch, alas. So only for the privileged few ;-)


Flickhead said...

That look on her face came after a session with the guy with the buzzing box! The mind boggles...

Thanks for joining the blogathon!

Fox said...

Oh...THAT face, in THAT shot. How perfect a depiction of sexual satisfaction.

I agree, viewers totally "envy" her in that moment.

Hedwig said...

Ah yes, what's in the little box? I'm very curious, but somehow, I also simply prefer not to know: this way, anyone can just insert their most extreme fantasy in the movie.

Flickhead said...

You truly are as cool as a fruitstand!

viagra online said...

haha a prostitute in a day light haha sounds kind of funny because of the change of life some people experiment to work on night and someone get the costume and other not but well.
Thanks for sharing.