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Black Moon (Criterion) (Blu-Ray) (Version française)

Cathryn Harrison , Therese Giehse , Louis Malle    R (Restricted)   Blu-ray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Amazon.ca

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

Product Description

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


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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I bought this movie from Amazon.ca,not because it was interesting,but because as a young person in the 1970's it was the first social entity that I became aware of the fact people mess in others heads by putting story lines together that contrive to bais reality without the power that harmony would collectively correct such chaos. If you take love and rub all sorts of dirt into its process,you will have an innocent still,with a lot of wrong doing smugged on them.Private pieces of information about people slandered is just the same. I wanted this video because wrong words into my life is still wrong words.This does not create worth nor experience,just unuseful hardship.In this video I believe many nuisances in life I would have circumvented looking back/hindsight,if I did not listen to persons talking down to me.I likened myself to the innocent girl in the story line. Each people when they are conscious,make a choice,with maturity or discernment,or added wisdom.Some do not have choice when they do not know that cards are stacked against them unnecessarily,this was a drama full of insolence. There is useless harm in the world... I saved one meaningful person from lazy slight of thought. The Brobdingnagians are the epitome of moral giants. Perhaps I am able to be considered one such human being. Brobdingnag is a practical, moral. Making people to busy in mind,is useless. "Be aware of the barrenness of a busy life.Socrates.Quality is not an act it is a habit.Aristotle. In this review I have spent a process of my conscious moments De-thugging my mind...of unnecessary pilfering of mental attitude,and choices. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars YES SurREAL Dec 29 2011
Format:DVD
This is a wonderful romp in a surreal world - great imagination & visual interest - kept me engaged from star to finish with only a few slow spots - for those who enjoy the unexpected this will be a real treat!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.9 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent exercise in atmosphere July 1 2011
By G. Kleinschmidt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
Malle explains in the interview excerpt included on the Criterion release that BLACK MOON is not about plot. It is about capturing moods and tones through various cinematic devices. It is about the unusual characters and situations. They provide the anchors for the film. Malle shoots his film as though it were a dream. Everything is very ambiguous and strange. There's not much I can say about this film that will do it justice, you just have to see it. I didn't know quite what to make of it after my first viewing, I just let it sink for a few days. I'm still not sure how I feel, but I'm glad I had the experience. You just have to let it wash over you. It's very slow and there's usually not much going on in the soundtrack except for ambiance and mumbling. It feels like an early David Lynch film produced by Alejandro Jodorowsky. You will either hate it or it will intrigue you. Either way, if you're a fan of surreal cinema, this is definitely worth a watch.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The oddest movie I have ever seen...ever! Jan. 25 2008
By SUPER TV GURU GURL - Published on Amazon.com
The movie is often played on a cable station usually after 9pm, and for good reason, I guess. Black Moon is a quiet movie, but its almost like watching a trainwreck. Once you start watching, you cant take your eyes off. And you dont really feel compelled to watch it again because its almost frightening. There is very little dailogue in the movie. Now, I'm not sure, but here is what I think this movie is about: Picture a post-apocolyptic, war-in-progress, war-torn country-any country will do for the purpose of decribing this movie. In your wildest imagination, picture animals that can speak, imp-like nude children running across the countryside chasing pigs, and unicorns actually do exist. All of the scenes have something about them that are flip-flop and the writer's attempt to depict their idea of of what the "end of the world" would be like. You know, when all of the "good" forces are removed from the earth and all of the "bad" forces are completely in contol of everything. For instance, all through the film you find large, rogue forces of female military troops being killed by each other and the very few male troops that are left at this point in time; probably for defecting or being traitors or something. Then, you have these very beautiful young people who are male/female twins that dont speak, yet they sing songs from Tristan and Isolde. Now these examples are not even the tip of the iceberg for what goes on in this film. And I am sure that I have missed something because I was able to pick up on only some of the subtle points here, but that is the only way that I can explain the odd complexities of this film. I watched it twice, the first time because there wasnt anything else on. The second time was to try to catch what I missed the first time, and after that I gave up trying to decide why a large rodent should have the ability to speak. But this is a very bizarre film with a very shocking and somewhat sad ending. Anyway with all of that being said, if you are a TV viewer who really appreciates very odd and bizarre movies, then this one is for you! However, if you are faint of heart, superstitious, and are confused and thrown off by something that is completely beyond some the most horrible things you can imagine, then try to avoid watching this movie!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Certainly Not A Full Moon... Dec 11 2011
By 4-Legged Defender - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
[BLACK MOON - 1975 - Directed by Louis Malle - Widescreen] Black Moon is a non-narrative Freudian tale of adolescent sexuality (?) apparently set in a postapocalyptic world of men against women, shifting identities and talking animals that make more sense than their human counterparts. It is Malle's most experimental film and an irritating cinematic daydream like no other. Is this a good thing? I don't believe so. He's treading on Luis Bunuel's turf, but clearly is in over his head. Even his interview in the bonus features shows how uncomfortable he is discussing the film, refusing to elucidate on elements that border on incomprehensible within the film, never making eye contact with the camera, his posture and body language as defensive as someone in a police video interrogation we are soon to find guilty of a crime.

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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Nymphet Breastfeeds the Old Lady March 23 2014
By The Writer Mo Ibrahim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Unsurprisingly, Barbara Gordon related in Jennifer Fever that gay men have a preference for young men, but surprisingly lesbians don't have a preference for young women. And I wrote in The Allure of Nymphetsthat the only thing that a man likes more than a nymphet are two nymphets.

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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Louis Malle what were you thinking? Nov. 3 2013
By John Gardner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
A movie without rhyme or reason, just beautiful Cinematography by Sven Nykvist. I saw this on late night TV a few years ago and decided to get the movie to see if there was any hope of understanding it. Nope, no luck, however there is something about it. Probably just the challenge of trying to derive some meaning out of something that has no real meaning. Kind of like how the mind tries to make sense of the shape of clouds.
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