La Prisonnière

1968

Drama

4
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 71%
IMDb Rating 7 10 688

Synopsis


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Cast

Pierre Richard as L'artiste qui a besoin de lumière
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
876.23 MB
1204*720
French
NR
24 fps
1hr 46 min
P/S 4 / 6
1.68 GB
1792*1072
French
NR
24 fps
1hr 46 min
P/S 2 / 8

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 8 / 10

The final thrust .

HG Clouzot whose best works ("diabolique" "salaire de la peur" "le corbeau" and "quai des orfèvres" ) rank among the best French works of all time,had health problems after "la vérité" (1960).Hence the eight -year gap, between that latter movie and his final opus "la prisonnière". Between,there was another film "l'enfer" ,starring Romy Schneider and Samy Frey but it was never finished .Claude Chabrol would take on the screenplay about thirty years later with Emmanuelle Béart and François Cluzet with startling results.

In fact Claude Chabrol is HGC's closest relative.No matter if Chabrol sprang from the nouvelle vague and Clouzot was part of their "enemies":Chabrol was (and is ) closer to Clouzot than any other new wave directors ,be it Truffaut or Godard .Were "la prisonnière" labelled a Chabrol's film,it would not enjoy ,so to speak,such a low rating.

"La prisonnière" is HGC's only color film and it remains a disturbing intriguing work.In "quai des orfèvres" ,a lipstick lesbian was taking photographs of models ,and thus sublimated what she probably thought was a sin (it was 1947!).In "la prisonnière" a young man (Laurent Terzieff a very earnest thespian)takes photographs of humiliated women .A young bourgeois girl(Wiener) married with a straight-in every senses of the term- husband (Bernard Fresson)discovers his secret by chance ,and wants to take a walk on the wild side.She won't escaped unharmed.Like Catherine Deneuve in Bunuel's "Belle de Jour" she is at the mercy of her fantasies:but whereas Severine,Bunuel's heroine,lived in a fantsy world,Josée ,HGC's girl, works as a TV editor and the films about which she works deal with women's sex and violence problems.

Although dated ,but not more than Bowman's final journey in "2001",the psychedelic effects are used masterfully.Although by no means a "nouvelle vaguesque" director ,HGC experiments here and the heroine's dream in the hospital is still impressive today."Everyone's a peeping tom" the young man says,"some pose,the others buy the photographs".Clouzot's misanthropy persisted till his last breath.

Reviewed by ElMaruecan82 8 / 10

Old-school Clouzot understood modern society more than any of the 'New Wave' know-it-all...

For all its novelty and surprisingly revolutionary design coming for an old-school director, "Woman in Chains", Henri-George Clouzot's final film, was a critical flop. But one should question the value of critics when a film like Melville's "Army of Shadows" could be criticized because of its sympathy for De Gaulle, so untimely with the rebellious wave that any artistic creation was supposed to embrace. Clouzot, like Melville, belonged to a dying breed, men who were men during the War and grew up with noir and pessimistic detachment, Camus' heirs rather than Sartre's.

But Sartre disciples were leading the show in the 50's and the existentialist wave paved the way to a libertarian and hedonistic vision of life that inspired stories about misfits and artificial rebels basking in an ocean of un-cinematic idleness, a state of mind that was slowly becoming the norm while Clouzot's previous film "The Truth", where Brigitte Bardot attempted a suicide out of love for her man, was deemed as too melodramatic. No wonder "woman in Chains" was panned… who would want to see a beautiful journalist (Elizabeth Wiener) who could have any good-looking gentleman in a snap of finger, being fascinated by Stan, an art gallery manager (Laurent Terzieff) who specialized in taking pictures of women in submissive poses? But the deviance of "Woman in Chains" is in its defiance toward the liberal bourgeois mentality, Clouzot has never been tender with any social class anyway.

So Josée, that's her name, feels like a mix of fascination and repulsion and whenever she'd feel reluctant to try, Stan would tell her 'you're just a bourgeois' meaning 'you're a precious stuck up girl'. But Stan is a bourgeois as well, he makes money by making art paintings that could appeal to the masses and be produced in series, having understood that all the classes should have access to the treasures of liberalism, and he pays women for photographing them in these humiliating positions, one of then (Dany Carrel) represents the blue collar mentality, she needs money for her studies so the ends justify the means. Liberalism implies that anything can be paid, the body as well. This is the whole hypocrisy of a society that condemns prostitution out of morality while pushing women to become sexual objects by exercising freedom. And after fifty years, you realize the film is almost too benign when compared to reality. In the pornographic era, women benevolently offer their body or humiliate themselves, just for kicks. Even Clouzot couldn't predict that.

But Josée is more idealistic in her mind, and we can feel Stan tries to be gentle with her. She's not afraid or prudish, she's just fascinated by the relationship made of domination and submission. She feels ashamed first, but as Stan says, it's part of the appeal. Josée lives with a brutish guy (Bernard Fresson) who openly cheats on her because they're a free couple like they say, and somewhat, she wishes she could belong to a man who'd deserve her more, and this is why she's attracted to Stan and she's ashamed of this attraction. The film would certainly make feminists cringe but I think there's one underlying truth about it: many women like Josée, pretty, employed, independent, pretend to be free and sensitive about their rights, wanting to be respected by men and so forth but they do fantasize on powerful men and admit that's their type.

And again the pornographic world is the perfect mirror of our society, you really see corporate or executive women playing games with thugs or hoodlums, women love bad boys and powerful guys, like driven by a form of bestial quest toward the roots. And this is what explains Stan's shame during the last scene because he knows he's loved for a power he doesn't have, he's impotent, so in a way, he's a fraud, he who despises the fraudulence of society like any character from a Clouzot's film, can't stand himself, and it makes sense once we get it. And this is where the genius of the film lies, it denounces the many hypocrisies of a society that imposes conventions only to conceal real truths and feelings, it's all lies, Clouzot gives a huge thumb nose to a decadent and hypocritical society by confronting it to its own limitations and contradictions.

And to make its point sharper, or try to, he even uses the very weapon of his detractors, by impregnating the film with the post-68 psychedelic colors, from the pop art design of the gallery to the climactic sequence where the special effects were a bit overplayed but it was Clouzot's take on avant-garde cinema, a way to show that even the old maverick could do the same, but not for aesthetic purposes, but to make a point about it. He who couldn't finish his previous film with Romy Scheneider 'Hell' hence missing the opportunity to shock and surprise French audience before anyone else, he finally did his "Woman in Chains" and expressed his disgust to the fullest even at the expenses of his reputation as the French response to Hitchcock. But I'm convinced that it's one film Hitchcock would have been proud to make, albeit differently, the Master didn't mind using explicitness in his later work anyway.

It's very fitting that Clouzot's penultimate film would be a little V-arm gesture to the existential new Wave, the know-it-all "Cahiers du Cinema" mentality that would relegate him to old-school cinema while he provided some of the most memorable movies during two decades. After that, he would retire and die in 1977, survived by one director who admitted not caring for his work; Jean-Luc Godard. I heard Godard became a film-maker as an extension of his work as a critic, well he might have been a good filmmaker but not much of a critic.

On the other hand, Clouzot was one hell of a filmmaker, storyteller and maybe the sharpest critic of all.

Reviewed by manuel-pestalozzi 9 / 10

A chick gets color sick

In France they sell this movie in a DVD-collection called The Unclassifyables. Not without reason, as it is indeed very difficult to say what this movie is exactly about. In my opinion it is an early critical comment on post modernism and deconstructivism – terms coined by French philosophers that became public property only years if not decades after this movie was made. The director sees what the world is coming to - and he does not like it. In this aspect La Prisonniere reminded me very much of Jacques Tati's movies Mon Oncle and Playtime.

Clouzot also seems to have been influenced here by Michelangelo Antonioni's movies Il Deserto Rosso and Blow-Up. Alienation and disorientation are rampant in all major characters. Apparently it is Clouzot's first movie in color - and it is one of the most impressive color movies I have seen ever. This director was always great with surfaces and textures. Here he adds undisturbed expanses of bright primary or secondary colors to his vocabulary. They are prominent in the greatest scenes, a playful chase on a beach (someone pours a bucket of red paint or blood into the water) and a climactic final scene on a rooftop in the center of Paris. In the house opposite the roof, a gigantic, heavy turn-of-the-century stone structure, all the exterior textile blinds are drawn so that it is sprinkled with tiny crimson squares. In a strange way color whenever it appears as a statement seems to mean artificiality in a negative sense, and the prime affliction of the main female character seems to be a kind of a color sickness. She goes through an interesting choice of different dresses.

I think La Prisonnière is a great artistic statement about the end of true artistic achievement. It takes the viewer to a fantasy world in which dreams and desires are bound turn into unbearable nightmares. The quick editing and ultra short insertions had other reviewers describe this movie as „psychedelic". I doubt that a psychedelic experience was what the director intended. I think he rather wanted to warn against the exaggerated input of images post modern society is subjected to. The fantastic, terrifically edited train ride of the main couple at the beginning of the movie seems to indicate as much.

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