Photo by Paris Film
In May 24 1967, was released one classic french movie, ‘Belle du Jour’. The movie is about Severine, a beautiful young woman married to a doctor. She loves her husband dearly, but cannot bring herself to be physically intimate with him. She indulges instead in vivid, kinky, erotic fantasies to entertain her sexual desires. Eventually she becomes a prostitute, working in a brothel in the afternoons while remaining chaste in her marriage.
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Sorel, Michel Piccoli
Director: Luis Buñuel
To celebrate the 50th anniversary, here are some of the curiosities about this movie.
- According to Luis Buñuel scholar Julie Jones, Buñuel once said that he himself didn’t know what the end exactly means.
- In the rape scene, her dress was fitted with Velcro to give off a tearing sound as it was ripped away.
- The comment by Pierre Serizy, “Semen retentum venenum est” is in Latin, and could be roughly translated as “To retain one’s semen is poisonous” or “To retain one’s semen will allow it to eat away at one like a poison.”
- “Belle de jour” is a day lily in French, a flower that blooms only by day, as Severine is available only during the afternoons. “Belle de jour” is also a sort of pun, as it reminds us of “belle de nuit”, an euphemism for prostitute.
- When the Duke (Georges Marchal) arrives by carriage at the outdoor cafe, he pauses beside a table at which Luis Bunuel and another man are sipping coffee.
- Luis Buñuel knew that Catherine Deneuve was unhappy, but he felt that it was mostly because she didn’t understand his working style and the reasons behind his choices. “She didn’t want her breasts to be seen,” he recalled, “and the hairdresser put a strip of fabric around her. She had to appear nude for a moment, putting on a stocking to keep her breasts from being seen during that movement, she bound them up in a taffeta band.”
- In most subtitled versions of the film, an italicized font is used to help the audience spot Séverine’s fantasies from reality.
- Following its initial release, the film wasn’t seen again for many years due to some rights issues with the Hakim brothers’ estate. The absence of the film from circulation–including home video–for so long only helped build up its mystique for a new generation who had not yet seen it.
- Catherine Deneuve’s famous buckled shoes were designed by Roger Vivier.
- Not surprisingly, given his penchant for icy blondes, Alfred Hitchcock was a big fan of the film.
- 41 years later Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira released Belle toujours (2006) which is an (unofficial) imagining of what could have happened to the lead characters of this film many years later.