Louis Malle

Sog.: Louis Malle. Scen.: Louis Malle, Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Jean Ferry. F.: Henri Decaë. M.: Kenout Peltier. Scgf.: Bernard Evein. Mus.: Fiorenzo Carpi. Int.: Brigitte Bardot (Jill), Marcello Mastroianni (Fabio), Ursula Kübler (Carla), Dirk Sanders (Dick), Paul Sorèze (Maxime), Eléonore Hirt (Cécile), Gloria France (Anna), Antoine Roblot (Alain), Jacqueline Doyen (Juliette). Prod.: Jacques Bar per Cipra, Progéfi, CCM. DCP. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Vie Privée is first and foremost a dazzling poem of sumptuous, shimmering images. Thanks to Henri Decaë’s talent, it is one of the most beautiful colour films ever made and along with The River, Senso and a few others, it marks a turning point. I think it was the first impressionist film, meaning the first film in which the colour has the luminosity, softness, satin texture and sensuality found in our great impressionist artists. Indeed, this film has an extraordinary sensuality even in its physical attributes (colours, costumes, décor) but also in the work of the camera, whose movements have an enveloping, caressing quality… Louis Malle did not want to make a documentary about Brigitte Bardot, but a film. He said, “Explaining the Bardot myth… is the business of sociologists, not storytellers”… Vie Privée is above all a psychological film, a character study, less of an actress at the behest of her public, than of a woman, unhappy about being stalked and coveted, seen as  a curiosity, a plaything or a target of hatred… This life of harassed objectification prevented her from having a normal life. She felt dissatisfied, bored, “loved by half-measures”, lived by half-measures… I doubt that the general public truly appreciates the image presented to them here of their scandalous idol… Her death at the end must surely discombobulate any viewer unaccustomed to the feelings this film provokes, unused to the cruelty served up in the form of a psychologically credible ending…
Personally, I appreciate Louis Malle’s disturbing and tragic ending, much  like the one in Zazie; he went beyond dismantling the mechanism behind the myth of the star; he showed one of its consequences, one of the possible solutions when the star in question can go on no longer, unable to choose between her private life and her foolish and artificial public life, fashioned for her by her profession.
Make no mistake, ultimately, it is not Jill who commits suicide, it is Cinema that kills her.

Marcel Martin, “Cinéma”, n. 64, March 1962

Copy From

Restored in 4K by Gaumont in collaboration with CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée at Éclair Classics L’Image retrouvée laboratory, from the original negatives image and sound. Funding provided by CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée