In June of 1959, Henri-Georges Clouzot wrote, for the weekly “Jours de France”, an account of the trial of Clotilde Seggiaro, a young woman accused of murder in Draguignan. When the producer Raoul Lévy suggested he direct a film which would use Brigitte Bardot differently from the commercial roles to which she was usually confined, Clouzot remembered that story, “because I was shocked, in the medical sense of the term, by the way justice is administered in criminal cases. […] How can one believe that it is possible to arrive at the truth? I wanted to show the constant ambiguity of the truth and that the same event can be shown from several different points of view”. Fascinated by Bardot’s charm and sensuality, Clouzot gave her the contradictions of a tragic heroine. Dominique is the victim of her wild instincts and the prejudices of a conformist society, a character emblematic of the youthful unease on the cusp of the Fifties/Sixties and with traits that mirror the actress’ real physiognomy. In the courtroom in which Dominique is tried for the murder of her lover Gilbert (Sami Frey), her turbulent existence is visualised through vivid, intermittent flashbacks while the prosecutor (Paul Meurisse) and defence attorney (Charles Vanel) fight it out, all the while exposing her vulnerability. In the midst of the Nouvelle Vague era, Clouzot never strays from a vigorous classicism. He is not interested in an analysis of the social phenomenon of youthful rebellion and instead prefers to narrate a cruel variation on the theme of the perverse consequences of a passionate relationship – without, however, failing to attack the hypocrisy and cynicism of reselectable society and its institutions. The film was a commercial triumph, perhaps also as a result of the impression created by several clamorous, newsworthy incidents (Bardot’s suicide attempt just a few weeks before the film’s release). The Italian censor insisted on about ten cuts adding up to roughly six minutes in length.
Cast and Credits
Sog.: Henri-Georges Clouzot. Scen.: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi, Simone Drieu, Michèle Perrein, Véra Clouzot. F.: Armand Thirard. M.: Albert Jurgenson. Scgf.: Jean André. Int.: Brigitte Bardot (Dominique Marceau), Sami Frey (Gilbert Tellier), Marie-José Nat (Annie Marceau), Charles Vanel (avvocato Guérin), Paul Meurisse (avvocato Éparvier), Jean-Loup Reynold (Michel), André Oumansky (Ludovic) , Louis Seigner (presidente della corte). Prod.: Raoul Lévy per Han Productions, CEIAD. DCP. D.: 127’. Bn.
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