Black Moon (Criterion) (Blu-Ray) (Version française)
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Louis Malle (The Lovers, Au revoir les enfants) meets Lewis Carroll in this bizarre and bewitching trip down the rabbit hole. After skirting the horrors of an unidentified war being waged in an anonymous countryside, a beautiful young woman (Cathryn Harrison) takes refuge in a remote farmhouse, where she becomes embroiled in the surreal domestic odyssey of a mysterious family. Evocatively shot by cinematographer Sven Nykvist (Cries and Whispers, Fanny and Alexander), Black Moon is a Freudian tale of adolescent sexuality set in a postapocalyptic world of shifting identities and talking animals. It is one of Malle’s most experimental films and a cinematic daydream like no other.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack • Archival interview with director Louis Malle • Gallery of behind-the-scenes photos • Alternate French-dubbed soundtrack • Original theatrical trailer • New and improved English subtitle translation • PLUS: A new essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau
French writer-director Louis Malle attracted American moviegoers in the late 1970s and early '80s with Pretty Baby, Atlantic City, and My Dinner with André, but those looking for signs of things to come will be hard-pressed to find them in Black Moon, their immediate predecessor. Variously described as a "mythological fairy tale" (by the director himself) and "an elaborate surrealist fantasy," this is a film with no story line, little dialogue (some of which is delivered by animals), and much strangeness. In what might be the director's broad interpretation of Alice in Wonderland, we follow 15-year-old Lily (Cathryn Harrison, granddaughter of the British actor Rex Harrison) as she drives Malle's "wild, archaic landscape," where a war pitting men and women soldiers against one another is in full swing; the wild ride ends near a decrepit country mansion occupied by a pair of androgynous, silent siblings (Alexandra Stewart and Andy Warhol regular Joe Dallesandro, both also called Lily), their bedridden old mother (a vivid performance by Therese Giehse, by far the most accomplished actor of the bunch), and a menagerie of beasts, including a pig in a highchair, a cat on a piano keyboard, a talking unicorn (hey, it's surrealism), as well as gaggles of naked children gamboling about with the sheep. That's where the remainder of the action, such as it is, unfolds, as young Lily tries to find her place in what Malle calls "an irrational world." Her efforts are largely in vain, and so perhaps will many viewers' be--it's not for nothing that this was Malle's least commercially successful effort. And if there doesn't seem to be much of a point, well, perhaps that's the point.
The overall presentation is up to the Criterion Collection's usual high standards, including a new high-definition digital transfer (the better to appreciate the cinematography by Ingmar Bergman veteran Sven Nykvist), a booklet with an essay about the movie, and a brief interview with the director (in French; the film itself is in English, but this release also contains a version dubbed in French). --Sam Graham
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However, a number of straight men have a preference for a genre of adult films that features teens with middle-aged women. The popularity of the genre may be due to the fact that the contrast in ages highlights the age of the younger women. The contrast appears to make the teens look even younger i.e., more attractive.
Black Moon (1975) is a fantasy film that was written and directed by Louis Malle. (The French born filmmaker directed the very controversial Pretty Baby (1978) as well.) In Black Moon, among other strange occurrences, 15-year-old cleavage revealing Lily Cathryn Harrison) chases a talking unicorn around the grounds of a 200-year-old manor house in France. (The house belongs to Malle.)
When Malle was asked to describe Black Moon he said, "I don't know how to describe Black Moon because it's a strange melange - if you want, it's a mythological fairy-tale [à la Alice in Wonderland] taking place in the near future."
What is clear in the film is that Malle knows how to take advantage of the allure of a nymphet. Malle teases the viewer with Lisa's cleavage for over an hour before he has the nymphet unbutton the few remaining buttons of her white cotton shirt, wipe her "chest" clean with a dampened cotton ball, and consolingly "breastfeeds" the Old Lady (Thérèse Giehse). Unsurprisingly, Black Moon was the winner of two French César Awards.
Note: The age of consent in France is 15 and since Cathryn Harrison's topless scene was shown in a non-sexual context, it was legal based on secular law. Although, what is considered to be non-sexual is subjective and sometimes the authorities disagree with artists.
As someone who has seen almost every Malle film and is a professed fan, I was excited about seeing this one, but midstream, I realized I was in for a huge letdown, and by the film's end, I was flabbergasted seeing the final scene approaching, the outcome of which would leave me perplexed, pissed, and feeling cinematically cheated by a good friend. There's more to be said about this film and the director's effort, but I simply cannot bring myself to care enough to do so - it might only succeed in making you want to see this flick and, unless you're a completist or a cinema sadist, what's the point? It seems most directors hit a wall at some point during the 70's for a variety of reasons we don't have time to delve into here. What could have been Lewis Carroll by way of Luis Bunuel as seen through the eyes of Louis Malle ends up a non-narrative mess that's not even character driven with little plot, no development or back-story, no emotional content and no ending. Sure, as arthouse junkies we can ruminate on this or that to make believe that there's something deeper there when in fact there probably isn't, so let's call it a day and declare it for what it probably is - Malle's most disappointing work, but one that pushed him into another chapter in his dynamic career during the 80's and beyond. So maybe we have this morsel of manna to be grateful for, in spite of the overarching 'Black Moon' that hangs above us when we indulge in this convoluted overindulgence. All great artists falter from time to time... but that doesn't diminish their greatness if they can rekindle the fire that made them memorable in the first place.
Lily first discovers a pig with a bunch of naked children walking down the path. Then she finds a pig sitting in a highchair that talks to her. Then an old elderly woman in her bed talking to a rat and the rat seems to be having an argument with the old woman. Right then you should know what you're getting into. This is a very odd and in the since, almost like an art-house, confusion of imagery and a deep dark trip down the rabbit hole. Alice finding herself in Wonderland. That's what I feel this movie reminds me of, a basic concept of a mirror image world with strangeness.
Lily then meets a young man on the compound played by the wonderful Joe Dallesandro who talks through his mind and Lily seems to understand. His name is also Lily and he has a sister also named Lily. The sister breast-feeds the elderly woman in the bed upstairs that young Lily thought was dead.
This is a masterpiece of imagery. A masterpiece of confusion. A masterpiece of strange scenarios and an all-around twisted example of a fairytale. The subconscious nightmare or dream like state, comes to life on screen. The imagery and the situations and scenarios is something so hard to explain unless you've seen it.
I have always been a huge fan of Joe Dallesandro. He is such a beautiful man and is an iconic pop culture character. A true male sex symbol of the underground film movement.
The elderly woman after coming back to life and getting nourishment through being breast-fed, can communicate and talk through a dialect that is not understandable and also can communication with animals.
This is ultimately a very unique and very original mind screw of a film. A true Avant-garde dreamscape. Directed by the amazing one-of-a-kind brilliant and awesome legendary director Louis Malle. He crafted something that defies explanation. A film that the very mind is dumbfounded when experiencing it. He was truly a master director that sadly passed away at the very young age of 63, but his talent continues to shine as long as you can experience his films. He created another one of my favorite films of all time, one of my top 20, 1971's Murmur of the Heart. Also crafted his mastery talent in masterpieces of film such as 1974's Lacombe, Lucien, 1981's My Dinner with Andre. The tour-de-force masterpiece 1987's Au Revoir Les Enfants. Interesting to note he was married to Murphy Brown a.k.a. Candice Bergen. He was a master, writer, director and gifted visionary.
You can finish my review here: http://www.abucketofcorn.com/2014/07/black-moon-1975.html