On Thursday evening the Alliance Francaise opened its doors for the showing of the famous French movie, Les dames du Bois de Boulogne, which translated means the ladies of the Bois de Boulogne, a park in Paris. The film was first screened in 1945 and was aired at the festival in its original French with English subtitles. The film tells the story a man who is tricked into marrying a former prostitute.
The film shows two of the lead characters, Helene and Jean who are madly in love but are not engaged to be married. Things change when Helene realises that Jean’s feelings for her have cooled off and he is more than happy to be friends and nothing more. Helene is devastated and is determined to seek revenge on Jean for breaking her heart.
Agnes is a cabaret dancer who supports herself and her mother during the hard times that have befallen them by working as a prostitute. Helene shows false compassion towards the young girl and her mother, and pays off all of Agnes’ mother’s debts and moves the two into an apartment. Helene then manipulates the situation and convinces Jean to marry Agnes after assuring him that Agnes and her mother are of impeccable background. She convinces Agnes not to tell Jean about her past.
Jean and Agnes are married but immediately after the ceremony Helene tells Jean the truth about Agnes’ past. The young Agnes thought that Jean already knew and falls into a dead faint when she realises that she has been tricked. Jean departs, leaving his unconscious wife behind.
However, he returns to find Agnes on the brink of death but still finding the strength to ask his forgiveness. When Jean sees that Agnes might die, he realises how much he loves her and begs her not to die. Agnes’ gentle smile reassures him that she will live.
The movie was written and directed by Frenchman Robert Bresson, who is known for his austere and sober style as a director. Helene’s role was beautifully played by Spanish actor Maria Casares, whose deep eyes spoke volumes and showed the tumultuous nature of her feelings of envy, hatred, jealousy, anger and most of all her unconditional love for Jean.
The charming Paul Bernard played the role of Jean but although his performance was commendable, it was no match for Casares’ outstanding presentation.
John Bazard, the spokesperson for the Alliance Francaise said, “It was a good occasion to show these classics. We showed French and Europeans films and a number of films from the 1930’s to 1970 era were shown. These included The Red Circle, Carnival in Flanders, Tristane, The Ladies of the Bois Boulogne and The Three penny Opera.”
Although only a handful of people showed up at the summer movie festival, the organisers were not disheartened and said that this was because of the fact that many people were away from the country on vacation.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2010.
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