Diary of a Chambermaid
from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|There was a version of this film made in 1946 by
screen legend Jean Renoir. This article is
about the 1964 version directed by Spain's most famous filmmaker, Luis
|Look, I'll be the first to
admit that I don't understand one damned thing in any Bu˝uel movies,
and this is no exception. Oh, it's not outright weird like Andalusian
Dog. Nobody's eyes are sliced open, and there aren't any people with a
handful of ants. (Although there is a dead girl with snails crawling
up her leg)
|But it is still odd, even
if it is chronological, even if it is ostensibly a straightforward narrative.
Jeanne Moreau plays Celestine, the new
maid in a pre-war estate of the French bourgeoisie.
They are bereft of morality, devoid of depth. All the women are
completely empty. The men at least have lust to occupy their existence
before they pass away from their pathetic lives as Nazi sympathizers,
shoe-fetishists, and abusive impotents. Celestine rejects everyone's
advances in an unemotional way. People die. Celestine seduces the man
who seems to be the killer, accepts his marriage proposal then turns
him in when she is sure. He gets off anyway. Celestine eventually
maneuvers herself into the very life she appeared to disdain.
DVD info from Amazon.
Widescreen anamorphic, 2.35:1, enhanced
for 16x9 screens. (B&W)
newly remastered DVD transfer
with the director and screenwriter
|I understood the characters'
motivations in Renoir's version. It was obvious there, from the
beginning, that Celeste was a scheming gold-digger. Here, heaven only
knows. I think the original story took place at the turn of the
century, but Bu˝uel really wanted to study the behavior of fascists,
so he relocated it to the period before WW2.
I do know that the film is one of the
most proficiently photographed B&W films I've ever seen, and that
this is a magnificent new, crisp widescreen transfer, so you should be
thrilled if you're a Bu˝uel fan.
guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of
excellence, about like three and a half stars
from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm
watchability, about like two and a half stars
from the critics. The fives are generally not
worthwhile unless they are really your kind of
material, about like two stars from the critics.
Films under five are generally awful even if you
like that kind of film, equivalent to about one
and a half stars from the critics or less,
depending on just how far below five the rating
guideline: A means the movie is so good it
will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not
good enough to win you over if you hate the
genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an
open mind about this type of film. C means it will only
appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover
appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you
like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if
you love the genre. F means that the film is not only
unappealing across-the-board, but technically
inept as well.
Based on this
description, this film is a - I don't know. Frankly, I don't get
it. I don't respond to this film emotionally or intellectually,
but a lot of people say it is a masterpiece. I guess it must be
a C+, since most of you will join me in saying "WTF?"
so it can't have any crossover appeal.
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