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Posts Tagged ‘Michel Piccoli’

When I was trying to think of titles for this blog I immediately thought of the 1964 film, Diary of a Chambermaid. This French film, filmed in classic black & white, was directed by the Spanish surrealist director Luis Bunuel. The protagonist is played by Jeanne Moreau, (Jules et Jim) who is a chic young woman from the city of Paris looking for work. Hired as a maid in a French provincial estate she begins to encounter the many oddities that the estate’s inhabitants exhibit. From the controlling aloof housewife, to the secretive aging father/owner, to the dangerous dogmatist groundskeeper, Moreau is able to understand and eventually critique their eccentricness. Moreau’s character exudes strength, confidence, intelligence, and sympathy. She respects her employer’s (housewife) constant demands and further exemplifies her respect for her by completely dismissing the constant flirtations by the hedonistic husband. She sympathetically accepts the peculiar, harmless, fetish requests made by the aging father and humorously plays along. As Moreau’s character begins to settle into life at the estate, the film takes a turn when the young daughter of another employee goes missing. The young girl eventually is found brutally murdered in the nearby woods. Moreau is convinced that one of the inhabitants is guilty and she is determined to find and reveal the culprit.

This film I think does a wonderful job of balancing humor and tragedy. In the beginning, viewers are introduced to the humorous eccentric behaviors of the inhabitants but as the film progresses, one begins to see the darker themes of racism, power, perversion, and murder. As a leftist, Bunuel set the film during the 1930s to exemplify the perils in the rise of French fascism.       

Other Bunuel films that are worth checking out are: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Belle de Jour, Tristana, and Land Without Bread.

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