09 March, 2007


Sara and co. have prepared an unpleasant surprise for Walter in Alain Robbe-Grillet's LA BELLE CAPTIVE.

Finally, Robbe-Grillet's 1983 fusion of Rene Magritte, Film Noir and female vampires arrives on R1 DVD 3/13/07. I can't vouch for the transfer but at least it's here with Eng subs. From Koch Lorber. The only extra is the original French trailer.

Not to boast but check out my August 2000 review of LA BELLE CAPTIVE under its IMBD listing. I believe that dates me as the first critic to point out the visual and thematic qualities which link it to Stanley Kubrick's 1999 EYES WIDE SHUT. Not to impley that SK saw or was influenced by the earlier Robbe Grillet film but now one can consider them together on DVD. I'm a supporter of EYS and still chafe at the digital altering of Kubrick's elegantly ominous swansong. Both films certainly link Eros and Thanatos within the format of the Erotic Thriller genre. They also both seem to employ the mythic structure of Orpheus in the underworld and that's probably a conscious decision on ARG's part. I can't speak to what Kubrick had exactly in mind.

LBC is probably ARG's most accomplished color film. Lensed by the legendary Henri Alekan it's certainly his most visually sensuous cinematic enterprise, and one of his most difficult. I must admit that I fell asleep the first time I attempted to watch this, via a poor video dub. It may improve with repeat viewings. This is the kind of film which respects and rewards the adventurous viewer but demands full attention. It's a very high performance vehicle and probably the most erotic of his films. Robbe-Grillet makes literary arthouse events with softcore porn surfaces which are often criticized as exotic S&M. But LA BELLE CAPTIVE is something else again with a specific density which will put off the casual consumer.

"La Belle Captive" is also a novel by Robbe-Grillet, in "collaboration" with the late surrealist painter Rene Magritte. It is like few other "novels" and, in fact, redefines the genre as do his other literary collaborations with visual artists.

(c) Robert Monell, 2007


Anonymous said...

Besides EYES WIDE SHOT, parts of the film (notably that scene with all of the men in the chateau also reminded me of Rollin's LE VAMPIRE NUE).

Robbe-Grillet's L'IMMORTELLE is also recommended for those interested in R-G's meditations on the eternal female.

Robert Monell said...

Yes, it does have that unique Rollin quality at times. I wonder if Kubrick saw this. I've read he used to screen a lot of obscure art films from around the world in between his own productions.