Thursday, February 04, 2016

Black Moon (1975 film)

Directed by Louis Malle and written by Malle and Joyce Bunuel, Black Moon is the story of a young woman who takes refuge at the countryside during a war where she finds herself at the home of an eccentric family. The film is an avant-garde exploration into a young woman dealing with a world that is surreal and unlike anything she’s encountered. Starring Cathryn Harrison, Joe Dallesandro, Alexandra Stewart, and Therese Ghiese. Black Moon is a strange yet evocative film from Louis Malle.

Set in a dystopian world where there’s a war between men and women, the film revolves around a young woman who takes refuge in a lavish countryside home where an eccentric family lives there and nothing makes sense. It’s a film that doesn’t have much of a plot nor does it feature much dialogue as it’s about a woman dealing with a world that is surreal and odd yet it serves as this strange escape from the dark reality of war. Yet, the world she would encounter involves an old lady (Therese Ghiese) lying on her bed only speaking coherently on a ham radio next to her while her adult children (Joe Dallesandro and Alexandra Stewart) don’t say a word as they do farming activities. Along with naked children running around chasing animals and the old lady being breast-fed by her daughter. It’s among these things that Lily (Cathryn Harrinson) would deal as she tries to make sense of everything.

Louis Malle’s direction definitely owes a lot to the idea of surrealism where it seems real but it’s also very off. The film begins with Lily driving in her car disguised as a man as she realizes she is in the middle of a war zone where men are killing women in this conflict. For about fifteen minutes, there is no dialogue other than what is heard on the radio. Once Lily is in the forest hiding from both forces as she would encounter the daughter riding a horse and a donkey with a unicorn horn. With the usage of wide and medium shots to capture the landscape along with some unique tracking and dolly shots for a few chase scenes and close-ups to play into Lily’s own reaction to what she sees. There’s some unique moments where Lily sees the sister doing something and then she goes into another room and sees her again as if she was there a second ago. It adds to a world that doesn’t make sense nor does it apologize for it as it adds to what Malle wants to do. Overall, Malle creates an odd yet riveting film about a young woman’s encounter with a surrealistic world.

Cinematogrpaher Sven Nykvist does brilliant work with the film‘s colorful cinematography in capturing the damp yet naturalistic look of the locations in the French countryside as well as in creating some unique lighting for some of the film‘s interior setting. Editor Suzanne Baron does excellent work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts and other rhythmic cuts to play into the film‘s offbeat tone as well as some of the stranger moments that occur. Production designer Roland Thenot and art director Ghislain Ury do fantastic work with the look of the home that Lily encounters as well as the rooms inside the home such as the bedroom of the old lady with all sorts of things around her.

The sound work of Nara Kollery and Luc Perini is amazing for its usage of sound effects that play into the world of fantasy as well as creating a sense of atmosphere in some of the rooms such as the sounds of clocks ringing that Lily tries to destroy. Music supervisor Diego Masson does wonderful work with the music as the soundtrack largely features some opera and classical music which largely consists of pieces by Richard Wagner.

The film’s superb cast features a wonderful performance from Therese Ghiese as the old lady as she would speak in broken French or a different language while speaking more clearly when she’s talking to a ham radio. Alexandra Stewart and Joe Dallesandro are excellent in their roles as the old lady’s adult children who don’t say anything but rather communicate through touch as they add a sense of eccentricities to their performances. Finally, there’s Cathryn Harrison in a radiant performance as Lily as this young woman who deals with the strange surroundings she is in as she does say a lot to express her frustration and confusion while being very energetic to express the emotions she is carrying.

Black Moon is an odd yet ravishing film from Louis Malle. While it is definitely one of his strangest and inaccessible films of his oeuvre, it is still one of the most fascinating studies of surrealism as well as a young woman’s desire to escape from the harsh realities of a world in conflict. In the end, Black Moon is a sensational film from Louis Malle.

Louis Malle Films: (The Silent World) - Elevator to the Gallows - The Lovers (1958 film) - Zazie Dans le Metro - (A Very Private Affair) - (Vive Le Tour) - The Fire Within - (Bons baisers de Bangkok) - (Viva Maria!) - (The Thief of Paris) - Spirits of the Dead-William Wilson - (Phantom India) - (Calcutta) - Murmur of the Heart - (Humain, Trop Humain) - Place de la Republique - Lacombe, Lucien - (Close Up (1976 short) - (Dominique Sanda ou Le reve eveille) - Pretty Baby (1978 film) - Atlantic City (1980 film) - (My Dinner with Andre) - Crackers - God’s Country (1985 film) - (Alamo Bay) - (And the Pursuit of Happiness) - Au Revoir Les Enfants - (May Fools) - (Damage (1992 film)) - (Vanya on 42nd Street)

© thevoid99 2016

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