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Gradiva (Version française) [Import]

James Wilby , Arielle Dombasle , Alain Robbe-Grillet    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 27.38 & FREE Shipping. Details
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A highly erotic, gothic mystery, in the style of Hitchcock's "Vertigo", from Alain Robbe-Grillet, writer of the Oscar-nominated "Last Year At Marienbad" and director of the notorious "Trans-Europ Express".
An English historian living in Morocco is searching for some mythical lost paintings. His quest leads him into the ancient Arabic quarter of the city. There he sees a beautiful blonde woman in a white veil. He becomes obsessed with finding her, but discovers that she may already be dead.

His Moroccan mistress, Belkis, appears to be encouraging his obsessions, but it soon transpires that she may be trapping him in a dark and dangerous labyrinth of desire, from which death may be the only escape.

This was the last work from the acclaimed and award winning filmmaker and is an exotic, erotic mystery story which deals with some of the most profound issues of the human heart. Packed with controversial and astonishing imagery, it's an intriguing and complex work of art that is a fitting tribute to a master of world cinema.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Orientalist Dreamscape May 27 2011
By DVD/OCD TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
French director Alain-Robbe Grillet's film "Gradiva" has been released by the Mondo Macabro DVD group and it is another excellent example of the unusual international cinema that they have made available to the North American audience. At its' heart "Gradiva" is a pretty esoteric movie made by a director noted for his idiosynchratic and off-beat creative efforts in both film & literature. The film draws its' 'inspiration' from the 'Orientalist' movement in art that flourished during the 18th & 19th centuries in response to European's 'discovering' the exotic world of the middle east. In this artistic genre painters often depicted erotic scenes that catered to the public's fascination with 'alien' eastern concepts such as the harem and slave market. One of the seminal Orientalist artists to bring this vision to the 'west' was the French painter Delacroix. He journied to the middle east and produced a series of 8 'famous' sketchbooks, full of the exotic imagery that he saw during his travels - apparently 2 of these sketchbooks have been 'lost' and it's upon this circumstance that Grillet built his film's premise. The plot revolves around a modern day British art historian who is in the middle east doing a thesis on Delacroix when a mysterious antique dealer approaches him with the information that he has the missing sketchbooks and they are full of explicitly erotic images that depict a particular beautiful blonde woman (Gradiva). It turns out that the art scholar has already been having 'visions/dreams' that feature this same woman and he sets off on a mission to get to the bottom of the story. This leads him into a surrealistic world of private clubs that recreate the erotic worlds of the Orientalist fantasies - most of which are centered on the slave girl theme... Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars good Dec 23 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
i enjoyed the product a lot... pretty much like it was advised and even more... i can say im satisfied
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite sado-eroticism May 31 2012
By J. Preston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film is a sado-erotic masterpiece from a master of sado-eroticism (Allain Robbe-Grillet). It is not for everyone. If you have not explored alternate sexuality, it is not a film for you.

I didn't understand this film before reading the info in the special features. There are many erotic BDSM scenes with attractive actresses. On its face, the film might appear to be exploitative and gratuitously sado-masochistic.

However, on reading the commentary by the director (Allain Robbe-Grillet), the film came into focus as an art film exploring the deep taboos of our unconscious.

It is a film with a long history of predecessors in French cinema. Grillet (died in 2008) is a noted French author and director. Little known is that his wife, Catherine Robbe-Grillet, was also an esteemed author of French sado-masochistic literature. Under the name of Jean de Berg, she authored a book in the 1960's entitled: "The Image." It was quickly made into a French sado-erotic film. The Image ("The Punishment of Anne") The film was directed by the art-house pioneer Radly Metzger. Metzger, an American Veteran of war film documentaries for the Army, was making tasteful Therese and Isabelle art films about alternate sexuality in the 1950's and 1960's. The Radley Metzger Collection, Vol. 1 (Therese and Isabelle / The Alley Cats / Camille 2000); Radley Meztger Collection Volume 2 (Little Mother / The Dirty Girls / Score); The Radley Metzger Collection, Vol. 3 (The Lickerish Quartet/ Carmen, Baby/ The Princess and the Call Girl)

It is hard for current generations to understand how American culture has puritanically repressed our explorations in our own sub-conscious eroticism. Grillet, his wife, and Metzger explored BDSM over a period of almost fifty years. They often came under severe criticisms from contemporaries. However, they braved the public censure in order to present us with a tour of our own unexplanable sub-conscious eroticism.

Notwithstanding the relentless censure on such explorers as Grillet and Metzger, they are to be taken seriously in literature and film. Grillet was elected to the very elite "Academie Francaise." There are only 32 members of this pinnacle of French culture. He received an Oscar nomination for a brilliant film: Last Year at Marienbad. Other films in the sado-erotice genre, given to us by Grillet, include: La Belle Captive; Trans-Europ-Express. These films are considered exploitative by many, but, are deep explorations of our unconscious minds and the mysterious impulses they gift to us.

The title "Gradiva" comes from a German novel about a man who has a relationship with a dead woman by the name of "Gradiva." It was the only work of literature which Sigmund Freund attempted to psychoanalyze in order to explain the frequently unexplainable about our unconscious.

Grillet was also fascinated with the sketches and biography of De la Croix who explored sado-eroticism in Algeria in the 19th century.

Grillet weaves the biography of De la Croix, exploring his own eroticism, with the fascinating insights provided to us by Freud in his analysis of "Gradiva."

I give this film five stars because: (1) It is tasteful (even though focusing on some violence and sadistic sequences); (2) It is a serious exploration of human sexuality and human consciousness; and (3) the film is packed with powerful, meaningful images that invite us into the director's views of a complex, mysterious and often over-powering subject - our own erotic consciousness.

This film focuses on dual realities. It is an exploration of the consciousness with which we experience reality, and, the consciousness with which we experience our dreams. There is an earlier Italian film (1973) that has similar sado-erotic themes. You might find it useful for comparing this film. Baba Yaga. Here are some other films exploring sado-erotic themes: The Libertine (Also directed by Radley Metzger and starring a very young Jean Louis Tritignant); The Story of O (One of the earliest, and, most popular films dealing with women's sexual liberation through sado-eroticism);
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cool atmospherics, circumambulatory story Dec 3 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This was an interesting French film shot in Morocco. From what I'm coming to learn as an ignorant American is that the French certainly appreciate erotic cinema, and this movie is no exception. In fact, the movie is primarily concerned with a more underground type of eroticism, looking at Arab/Moroccan sex slaves, torture (lightly), etc. The movie also explores a Frenchman investigating Delacroix (sp?) and his experiences in Morocco and a legendary French woman who may or may not have been his lover, who may or may not have been executed by Moroccans, and, further, who may or may not be a ghost haunting the Moroccan streets. Largely, that story takes a very backseat to the movie's visual displays of the ribald, which are, for the most part, very well done. There are strong atmospheric elements, with good camera work, lighting, scene composition, etc. The acting is at least passably good too. Overall, its really not about any particular story, but is an interesting visual evolution for the eyes, considering the great Moroccan visuals, the perverse eroticism, etc. A recommended rental for sure.
16 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Late Robbe-Grillet Sept. 1 2009
By Gary Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is an extraordinary film, an oneiric phantasmagoria capping Robbe-Grillet's career as a filmmaker. If you're new to his work, whether as a director or as a novelist, don't worry if you start off thinking it's the story of the discovery of some lost Delacroix sketches, then change your mind and see it as the story of a frame-up, and then change your mind again and take it for a psychological thriller, and then see it as a retelling of Madama Butterfly. (If you're not new to his work, you'll be expecting something like this.) It's all those things, and, while you won't be able to lay out the cause-and-effect relationships of all the pieces on graph paper, it nonetheless all coheres. The realism of classic storytelling--the Dickensian or Balzacian plot--has never had a place in Robbe-Grillet, but he offers instead a vision of reality beneath what we've trained ourselves to see day-to-day. In this he shows himself an heir of the Surrealists, and it's not for nothing that Gradiva's male lead is named John Locke. Indeed, one rather droll way of reading the film is as a critique of the sort of rationalism the flesh-and-blood Locke espoused. So approach this as a cinematic dream. (Indeed, pay particular attention to the little scene in which we learn all about the profession of dream acting, including how the government, while banning a great many things, still permits murders and sexual crimes to occur in dreams; Robbe-Grillet's sense of humor too often goes unnoticed.) The film does contain a good deal of sado-erotic imagery, but it's of a curious type, with none of that Dickensian realism to it, but rather the stuff of dreams, at least certain ones. Make of it what you will, but Robbe-Grillet never was a respecter of convention, and I suspect there is at least an element of épater le bourgeois to be had here.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tedious but intellectually interesting Nov. 18 2012
By PJR - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
A film about dreaming. It both benefits and suffers from this.

If you have not had much familiarity with alternative sexuality the nudity and theatrical S&M might turn you on and you will overlook the blemishes and think it was erotic. There are lots of unrealistically perky breasts and a few displays of whippings, some blood, etc. Wow? -- God bless you and enjoy.

But really it is about dreaming. It is one of the most extensive EFFORTS to deal with shifting scenes and paradoxes in dreaming that I have seen. I would give it an A for effort. To help you along, there are discussions of dreams within the dream about dreaming itself that are almost pedantic tutorials on dreaming. I did not find this distracting at all because I find in my own dreams that I can have discussions about dreaming as I try to figure out if I am dreaming or awake. So actually I liked this.

Also I felt that the setting of Marrakech really contributed to the dreaminess of the film. Grade of A on this important detail.

On the other hand the dream angle allowed the director to get away with a lot that I felt made the film seem tedious and even amateurish at times. Like, so many of the breasts looked injected and unrealistic and made it seem almost like a porn film. But one could argue in defense, "Oh well that was to make it look more like a dream." Hmmm. Anyway other aspects of direction also seemed more like a porn film than serious film-making.

The acting often was also pretty theatrical or stilted in the sense of just not good. Again, one could say, well that was to make it seem more like a dream. But from my own dreams and from reading and talking, behavior in dreams is realistic but strange in not such affected ways. It is more intimate on the one hand or quite detatched on the other. So I don't think the director handled this well, though I suppose he would argue with me and it would come down to a matter of opinion unless we brought in an expert panel to offer more perspective.

A lot of things did not tie together very well from a waking perspective and it seemed as though anticipating this problem he overplayed the incongruities as though to say "look, what is happening now is really strange and impossible. Remember this is a dream.' I found that distracting, but maybe someone else would find it helpful. Add this to the length of the film and the difficulty in relating to the characters and I found the film tedious. I could have cared less about the protagonist or his women or the men who were pimping women etc. There seemed to be little effort to make them anything but "strange" and exotic. This was not Belle du Jour or some other Bunuel film in that respect.

Something interesting could have been done in terms of character development with the core idea of a writer/scholar trying to probe the erotic side of a famous artist by investigating him in an exotic place where he did some of his most interesting work. I rented the film in that hope. But nothing substantial was there that i could see in terms of the acting or direction of that character. He mostly moved about and looked puzzled. Who was this guy and for that matter "who" was the artist Delacroix? The director seemed to not want to go that way with this film. Okay, its his film. But it came across as a lost opportunity. He wanted to do something else, and I tried to view it from what seemed to be his perspective but can only give him an A for Effort.

If you follow films about dreaming or surrealistic films, then I think you should give this film a try because it is a very interesting effort at least in a technical sense and in CERTAIN ways as I tried to say, one of the best. As a whole package, I was disappointed.

Thus I tried to enjoy the exotic setting and efforts to bring dreaming to the screen and found these interesting and rewarding and can recommend the film conditionally.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Orientalist Dreamscape May 27 2011
By Ramm - Published on Amazon.com
French director Alain-Robbe Grillet's film "Gradiva" has been released by the Mondo Macabro DVD group and it is another excellent example of the unusual international cinema that they have made available to the North American audience. At its' heart "Gradiva" is a pretty esoteric movie made by a director noted for his idiosyncratic and off-beat creative efforts in both film & literature. The film draws its' 'inspiration' from the 'Orientalist' movement in art that flourished during the 18th & 19th centuries in response to European's 'discovering' the exotic world of the middle east. In this artistic genre painters often depicted erotic scenes that catered to the public's fascination with 'alien' eastern concepts such as the harem and slave market. One of the seminal Orientalist artists to bring this vision to the 'west' was the French painter Delacroix. He traveled to the middle east and produced a series of 8 'famous' sketchbooks, full of the exotic imagery that he saw during his travels - apparently 2 of these sketchbooks have been 'lost' and it's upon this circumstance that Grillet built his film's premise. The plot revolves around a modern day British art historian who is in the middle east doing a thesis on Delacroix when a mysterious antique dealer approaches him with the information that he has the missing sketchbooks and they are full of explicitly erotic images that depict a particular beautiful blond woman (Gradiva). It turns out that the art scholar has already been having 'visions/dreams' that feature this same woman and he sets off on a mission to get to the bottom of the story. This leads him into a surrealistic world of private clubs that recreate the erotic worlds of the Orientalist fantasies - most of which are centered on the slave girl theme... so there is a lot of B&D imagery throughout the film... girls in chains, whipping scenes, et al and a lot of female nudity. The photography is lush as Grillet does a credible job of capturing the quality of the light and canvases of the Orientalist paintings that he apparently loves. The overall tone of the movie is decidedly dream-like - constantly blending fantasy with reality until they become practically indistinguishable, which appears to be the director's 'point'... if indeed there is one! Ultimately, the film seems a bit of an excuse for Grillet to indulge his personal 'sado-erotic' predilections and, if you like that sort of thing, then this movie is a delight for the eyes! The two principle female leads are gorgeous and constantly displaying a lot of flesh with all around decent acting and production values. Personally, I am a big fan of Orientalist art (AND harem/slave girl imagery) so I found this foray into 'bringing it to life' to be very entertaining and would recommend it highly. The film is in French w/ English subs - 'extras' include some written bio notes on the actors & director.
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