Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 21:30


Jacqueline Audry


Wednesday 28/06/2017


Original version with simultaneous translation through headphones


Film Notes

Don’t talk to me about cinema! Exclaimed Colette. I was so disappointed.
I love Gigi. I’m sure I won’t betray her.
Colette stared intently, with feline eyes, at [Jacqueline Audry]. Then she asked:
What have you done so far?
Colette smiled. Jacqueline had hit the mark. Where a routine director wouldn’t have been able to get anything, a rookie had come out on top.
Michèle Nicolai, Madame Colette se réconcilie avec le cinéma grâce à Jacqueline Audry (Madame Colette came round to cinema thanks to Jacqueline Audry), “France Hebdo”, 24 October 1949

Gigi is a special case in Colette’s work. It is said that the novella – a rather unorthodox sentimental education of around 30 pages in length published in 1944 – was written to be translated into pictures. As of 1945, the director Jacqueline Audry started looking for the right actress, side-stepping Max Ophüls, who was equally interested in making the film. And as of 1946, Colette set to work on the dialogues and script. That is how the encounter between Colette, Jacqueline Audry and Danièle Delorme began, the perfect rule of three for what would be a whole series of Belle Époque films on role and sexual identity transgression. It was even said that Gigi was one of the first French feminist films and that Colette gave the rights for free.
Again in Minne and Mitsou (also adapted by Audry and played by the young rising star Delorme), the text is written in the third person, and a female character is at the center of the story. Apart from films set in schools (La Cage aux rossignols, Le Carrefour des enfants perdus), French cinema of the 1940s paid little attention to the problems affecting adolescents. Gigi opened the way to films focused on the subordination of male characters to female ones: the brazenly matriarchal family, a kind of self-governing gynaeceum (Gaby Morlay and Yvonne de Bray), in which Gigi grows up was conceived as an example of the overturning of women’s inequality and their dependence, as an element of strength, as a counter-defense to marriage. Where this is no longer about love, but the need to make a position for yourself, as a good cocotte, living off her benefactors between a spoonful of cassoulet and a sip of chamomile. And the final emotional and definitive outcome comes right from the refusal of Gigi, a smart girl with an honest conscience who suddenly matures after a night of torment: the refusal to submit to such laws, to be a kept woman or act as a trophy for male conquests.
The success of Gigi revived interest in the film versions of Colette’s texts (Julie de Carneilhan, 1950, or Le Blé en herbe, 1954) at a time when the writer was reinstated and even transformed into a national treasure, moving to the Palais Royal, the honorary home that she would never leave.
Émilie Cauquy

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal racconto omonimo di Colette. F.: Gérard Perrin. M.: Nathalie Petitroux. Scgf.: Raymond Druart. Mus.: Marcel Landowski. Int.: Danièle Delorme (Gilberte ‘Gigi’ Alvarez), Yvonne de Bray (Madame ‘Mamita’ Alvarez), Gaby Morlay (zia Alicia), Franck Villard (Gaston), Jean Tissier (Honoré), Paul Demange (Emmanuel), Madeleine Rousset (Liane d’Exelmans), Colette Georges (Minouche). Prod.: Codo-Cinéma – Les Productions Claude Dolbert. 35mm. D.: 99’. Bn