my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Viva Maria!
Director:   Louis Malle
Year:   1965
Genre:   Comedy
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   07.19.13

Other Movies Seen By This Director (1)
- Elevator to the Gallows

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
07.19.13Marchesa 2 Consecutive nights out at the movies. No joke but outside of a festival I think this is the first time that's happened in 5 years.

So this is the next in Lars' series of circus films that he programmed for AFS at the Marchesa. It stars Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau and Louis Malle directed it. It's funny because in his intro Lars mentioned how when he went through his French cinema phase (as I'm guessing we all did at some point) Truffaut and Godard really stood out for him but he didn't really "get" Malle. My own French period was pretty similar. I watched every Truffaut I could get my hands on and loved almost everything he did, watched a ton of Godard and never really got into him, but others like Chabrol and Malle I never really dived into as deeply, partly because of their availability to me at that point but also because I didn't really "get" them like I loved Truffaut and disagreed with Godard.

Anyway, rambling aside... this movie!

First of, I'll probably talk a lot about how amazing Bardot is in this but I don't want to undersell Moreau who is unbelievably beautiful and talented. I can't think of a better way of spending two hours than watching both of these ladies dance around in corsets. But Bardot... with this movie I finally understand her draw. I always sort of attributed her and movies like And God Created Woman as aging kind of badly that is to say having more impact in historical context than today. But in this movie, Bardot is playful and young and innocent and goddamn sexy and coy and blessed and beloved. Her performance and role really bring out everything I've ever heard about her and I'm happy to finally be able to appreciate her with zero qualification.

Lars said afterward that this is a big hit and I'm so glad because as I watched I kept feeling pangs of sadness because the epic scale of this movie paired with the goofy tone of its humor made me think there's NO WAY anyone liked this when it was made. If ever there was an Ishtar or Waterworld or Heaven's Gate category then this movie MUST be included. The humor is so slapstick and stupid and gaggy that the tremendous budget with the laundry list of locations and armies of extras and beautiful photography and ornate costumes would surely consign this movie to failure BUT IT WORKS! I wonder if this was like the Titanic or Avatar of the day where people were just sure it would bomb but then everybody in the world loved it. The impressive scale of the movie almost demands some controversy...


That's just my feelings based on the current state of the industry, knowing that they would never ever every make this today. I can't even imagine it really: a period epic about circus performers, slapstick comedy, and bloody revolution!? Like... imagine if Braveheart had Benny Hill comedy bits in it. No way critics would like that shit.

Either way, I couldn't help but feel a little sadness for the inevitable fate of this movie and I was really pleasantly surprised to hear it was a hit afterward. Huzzah!

So... I really enjoyed this. I think the prologue of Bardot's childhood really helped to set the tone so I was in the right groove for humour and like I said both leads were stunningly beautiful. Really great movie. I should track down more Malle stuff now it's all probably a search or two away.
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