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Diary of a Chambermaid (Criterion Collection)

Jeanne Moreau , Michel Piccoli , Luis Buñuel    Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Considered surrealist Luis Buñuel most linear film, Diary of a Chambermaid is an excellent introduction to this director's dark satirical world of social criticism. Loosely based on Mirbeau's Journal D'Une Femme de Chambre, Buñuel uses the beautiful French countryside as a backdrop to ruthlessly display his favorite subjects: Catholicism, the bourgeoisie, nationalism, and moral decay. Jeanne Moreau is Celestine, a chambermaid from Paris who takes a job at a picturesque country estate. When the body of the staff's daughter is discovered raped and murdered, Celesine does whatever is necessary to uncover the girl's killer. She quickly learns that her new employees, though apparent pillars of nouveau aristocracy, are as morally corrupt as the girl’s murderer. Though extremely linear for Buñuel, Diary of a Chambermaid does not lack for profound, symbolic imagery and cryptic revelations. --Rob Bracco

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This wicked adaptation of the Octave Mirbeau novel is classic Luis Buñuel. Jeanne Moreau is Celestine, a beautiful Parisian domestic who, upon arrival at her new job at an estate in provincial 1930s France, entrenches herself in sexual hypocrisy and scandal with her philandering employer (Buñuel regular Michel Piccoli). Filmed in luxurious black-and-white Franscope, Diary of a Chambermaid is a raw-edged tangle of fetishism and murder-and a scathing look at the burgeoning French fascism of the era.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Luis Bunuel and nationalism ridiculed Nov. 22 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is one of the harsher films by Luis Bunuel. In this masterpiece
Jeanne Moreau as chambermaid
tries in vain to change a society that will gloriously move from bad to crime.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buñuel's insightful story of a Chambermaid... April 22 2004
Celestine (Jeanne Moreau), a street-smart Parisian woman, has recently accepted the position as a chambermaid for an aristocratic family that resides in a rural area of France. When Celestine arrives to the location of her new employer she quickly identifies the different roles of the aristocratic family and the servants. The old man and owner of the château enjoy his seclusion where he dives into his tabooed desires while the daughter is unpleasantly controlling of everything that takes place in the château. Tthe daughter's husband is constantly on the hunt for new trophies, either game or women. And the hired farmer who takes care of the estate is planning a fascist coup while the female servants are persistently oppressed by traditions and values set by social environment.
Luis Buñuel's unique persona shines through in Diary of a Chambermaid as it presents politics on a grass root level. Yet, it is a very different film from his other films as it deals with a different theme and is present in a different angle than his other creations. Buñuel displays several upper-class rules and expectations, but also the hypocrisy behind the aristocratic values. For example, Buñuel shows a very realistic view of the socioeconomic oppression of women in an environment that is built on traditions and social rules. These customs are under scrutiny as Celestine silently transgresses from the norms of her society. In the end, Buñuel offers his view of an aristocratic life style and its influence on the people in it, which leaves the audience with a terrific cinematic experience that offers both insights and thoughts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars accessible Bunuel Jan. 30 2004
By audrey
Octave Mirbeau's book was first filmed by Jean Renoir, but Luis Bunuel's superior version makes the story his own as he shifts certain aspects of the novel to fit his own interests and brings in a wonderful cast, including the luminous Jeanne Moreau. Set in 1930s France, at a time when fascism was making inroads, Moreau's Celestine has come from Paris to serve a bourgeois family on their country estate. Seen through her eyes, we find decadance, eccentricity and malevolence at every turn as she copes with a fetishist, a lecher and even a murderer. Ultimately, we find that Celestine herself is also an opportunist. Or is she just a survivor?
This is one of Bunuel's most accessible films. If you're interested in this director, or European film in general, this would be a great introduction. This is the first screenplay with longtime collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere, and an 18-minute interview with Carriere should add to your enjoyment of this excellent b&w dvd print. The dvd also includes a trailer, which is really a mini-interview with Moreau.
French with optional English subtitles.
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