Woman in Chains

Posted on Friday, March 11, 2011, under

I have decided to start a new thing here on Kyotocacti: I'll be putting up links to various film clips, uploaded to youtube by yours truly. These will be either scenes from feature films or a short film in its entirety. The flicks I like to watch tend to be oldish, rare and thus harder to find. These films are less about narrative and more about content, be it a noirish play with lights and shadows, be it a subversive take on story-telling, be it a meditation on human condition. Or none of those, but ordinary stories about ordinary people. And then there will be silents. Animation, too.
Let's cut to the chase. Here is the first clip from Henri Clouzot's 'La Prisonniere' (1968). Saw it last night. While not Clouzot's best, the film contains some remarkable sequences marked by quick editing, the late 60's 'psychedelic' imagery and a very striking use of colour. The film successfully juxtaposes its rather bleak outlook on postmodern alienation with an almost celebratory use of colour, and in this respect evokes certain European works of the period  - Antonioni's 'Il Deserto Rosso' springs to mind.
My clip actually contains the last few minutes of the film, including the 'trippy' dream sequence (which someone on IMDB compared to Bowman's journey in Kubrick's '2001')  plus the credits with a delightful Adagio from Mahler's Symphony #4.

A breathtaking finale, a collage of striking images that somehow manages to distil the plot as well as the girl's emotional disorientation. She is hospitalized, comatose after a car suicide attempt in her brown Renault 4  - I remember the doors having a rather cute checked pattern, as if the car was wrapped in a big woollen blanket. The suicide motif is recurring in 'Woman in Chains': Clouzot seems to suggest a personal crisis stems from a loss of moral compass in postmodern art/life.
After the girl wakes she's mumbling 'Stan, Stan'. Alas it is not the erratic Stan who is by her bedside, but her rather bewildered-looking hubby. Gilbert's last lines: 'Don't worry... all will be fine'.
Or will it? 
Note: NOT for the faint-hearted.

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