HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Await Further Instructions
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
In Order of Disappearance
Charlotte's Web
Meg, The
Christmas Blood
Equalizer 2, The
1985
Mowgli
Ski School
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Age of Shadows, The
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Othello
First Reformed
Red White and Zero
Death Wish
Cry Wilderness
Heiresses, The
Millhouse: A White Comedy
Skyscraper
Born of Fire
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Lucia
Yanks
Sweet November
Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The
Real Men
Shoplifters
Redeemer
   
 
Newest Articles
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
The Big Grapple: Escape from New York and Its Influence
The Conquest of Everett: The Kenny Everett Video Show on DVD
Bout for the Count: Hammer's Dracula in the 1970s
Nopes from a Small Island: Mistreatment of American Stars in British Films
You Know, For Kids: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box
If He Were a Carpenter and It Was the 80s: The Fog, Prince of Darkness and They Live
Tee-Hee, It's 80s Sci-Fi Horror: Night of the Comet, The Stuff and Night of the Creeps
Chance of a Ghost: The Uninvited and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
3 Simian Slashers: Phenomena, Link and Monkey Shines
When is a Jackie Chan Movie Not a Jackie Chan Movie? Armour of God and City Hunter
   
 
  Belle Captive, La Angel of DeathBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: Alain Robbe-Grillet
Stars: Daniel Mesguich, Cyrielle Clair, Daniel Emilfork, François Chaumette, Gabrielle Lazure, Gilles Arbona, Arielle Dombasle, Jean-Claude Leguay, Nancy Van Slyke, Roland Dubillard
Genre: Horror, Drama, Sex, Weirdo, Fantasy
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: On a mission for the mysterious “Organization” headed by leather-clad biker angel Sara Zeitgeist (Cyrielle Clair), the enigmatic Walter Raim (Daniel Mesguich) stops off at a dreamy nightclub where the beautiful, blonde Marie-Ange (Gabrielle Lazure) flaunts herself before his voyeuristic gaze. Shortly thereafter he returns to the road only to find Marie-Ange lying there, handcuffed, her dress in tatters, smeared in blood. He brings the semi-conscious woman back to a villa where a gaggle of debonair yet menacing gentlemen resuscitate her with a glass of suspicious red liquid. Locked in a bedroom together, Walter and Marie-Ange end up in the throes of passion, until the next morning he discovers the girl has vanished, the villa is eerily empty and his neck is bleeding. Then things get really weird.

Writer, filmmaker and essayist Alain Robbe-Grillet is one of the heavyweights of the French avant-garde. Hugely influential, he straddles the art-house/pop culture divide with admirable aplomb in his native France, drawing parallels between experimental literature, pornography, pulp fiction, gothic horror, comic books and classical art, but is barely mentioned in the English language world save for being the screenwriter of Last Year at Marienbad (1961). Throughout his often controversial career Robbe-Grillet has had a fair few commercial successes without compromising his surreal-erotic impulses, including Trans-Europ-Express (1966), Slow Slidings of Pleasure (1974) and Playing with Fire (1975), but La Belle Captive is commonly considered his most accessible film.

Inspired by the same-titled paintings by René Magritte and Edouard Manet, that were also the basis of a photo-novel Robbe-Grillet authored in 1976, La Belle Captive’s dreamy, ethereal plot gives the impression of being free-flowing but is remarkably cohesive, more a case of elliptical storytelling than surrealism for surrealism’s sake. Robbe-Grillet revisits familiar themes and imagery that go all the way back to Marienbad: the gulf between men and women bridged by desire; deja-vous; dislocations in time and space; dreams within dreams; eerily deserted and luxurious mansions slowly ravaged by time; the irresistible allure of amour fou.

As authors Pete Tombs and Cathal Tohill observed in their indispensable “Immoral Tales”, the nearest comparison to what Robbe-Grillet sets out to achieve with his elegant essays in sado-eroticism can be found in the horror-porn ghettoes inhabited by Jess Franco or Jean Rollin. This is the closest Robbe-Grillet has come to making a horror film in its implication that Marie-Ange may be either a vampire, a vengeful spirit or some spectral apparition conjured by her parapsychologist father (Roland Dubillard) with his brainwave machine. From there it’s not too far a jump to Franco’s Venus in Furs (1969) or Rollin’s Fascination (1979). And yet certain elements like the elegant soiree where sharp-suited playboys abuse women for their pleasure or the cruel twist that reunites one character with the alluring Angel of Death, foreshadow mainstream efforts like Eyes Wide Shut (1999) or Angel Heart (1987). Although, for all his sado-erotic impulses, Robbe-Grillet is far less despairing than Stanley Kubrick and less pretentious than Alan Parker.

Beneath the magical atmosphere conjured by the incomparable cinematographer Henri Alekan - whose visual gifts illuminated La Belle et la Bette (1946) and indulges some primitive but still striking use of video effects here - runs a vein of gleefully silly humour. Note the messenger boy doing weird things with his bicycle, or Sara’s motorcycle residing right beside her 18th century boudoir, or the opera-singing mental patient played by sexy Arielle Dombasle (who appeared in Lace around the same time! How’s that for contrasts?).

Scored with sublime snippets of Schubert, La Belle Captive carries a palpable erotic frisson whenever Gabrielle Lazure and Cyrielle Clair grace the screen. Frequently undraped and lovingly bathed in Alekan’s golden hues, they’re suitably captivating angels of death although, as ever with Robbe-Grillet, the question remains whether they are prisoners of our gaze or we’re prisoners to their’s.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2469 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Stately Wayne Manor
George White
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
Rashed Ali
   

 

Last Updated: