HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Ritual, The
Les Girls
Death of Stalin, The
Mission, The
Wild Life, The
Eve of Destruction
Mad Death, The
Lost in Vagueness
Sleeping Beauty
Allure
In Search of Dracula
Fantastic Woman, A
Emmanuelle II
Far from Vietnam
Inherit the Wind
Post, The
King Frat
Commuter, The
Mister Buddwing
Kiki's Delivery Service
Z-O-M-B-I-E-S
Mansfield 66/67
Old Enough
Bleeding Steel
Double Hour, The
My Generation
Geostorm
Pendulum
Certain Magical Index: The Movie - The Miracle of Endymion, A
That Good Night
   
 
Newest Articles
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
Force the Issue: Star Wars' Tricky Middle Prequels and Sequels
Rediscovered: The Avengers - Tunnel of Fear on DVD
Sword Play: An Actor's Revenge vs Your Average Zatoichi Movie
Super Sleuths: The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes on DVD
Stop That, It's Silly: The Ends of Monty Python
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
   
 
  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 2276 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 film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Mark Scampion
   

 

Last Updated: