Black Moon (1975 film)

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Black Moon
Blackmoonposter.jpg
Directed byLouis Malle
Produced byClaude Nejar
Written byLouis Malle
Joyce Buñuel
Ghislain Uhry
StarringCathryn Harrison
Joe Dallesandro
Alexandra Stewart
Music byDiego Masson
CinematographySven Nykvist
Editing bySuzanne Baron
Distributed byCinema International Corporation (France)
Filmverlag der Autoren (West Germany)
20th Century Fox
(United States)
Release dates
  • 24 September 1975 (1975-09-24) (France)

  • 12 February 1976 (1976-02-12) (West Germany)

  • 30 September 1975 (1975-09-30) (West Germany)
Running time100 min.
CountryFrance/West Germany
LanguageEnglish
 
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Black Moon
Blackmoonposter.jpg
Directed byLouis Malle
Produced byClaude Nejar
Written byLouis Malle
Joyce Buñuel
Ghislain Uhry
StarringCathryn Harrison
Joe Dallesandro
Alexandra Stewart
Music byDiego Masson
CinematographySven Nykvist
Editing bySuzanne Baron
Distributed byCinema International Corporation (France)
Filmverlag der Autoren (West Germany)
20th Century Fox
(United States)
Release dates
  • 24 September 1975 (1975-09-24) (France)

  • 12 February 1976 (1976-02-12) (West Germany)

  • 30 September 1975 (1975-09-30) (West Germany)
Running time100 min.
CountryFrance/West Germany
LanguageEnglish

Black Moon is a 1975 French/West German avant-garde film directed by Louis Malle. The film stars Cathryn Harrison, Joe Dallesandro, Therese Giehse, and Alexandra Stewart. Shown at the 1975 New York Film Festival, it was distributed in the United States by 20th Century Fox.

Overview[edit]

The surreal narrative pivots around Lily a confused teenager (Cathryn Harrison) who witnesses a war between the sexes and finds herself involved in numerous dream-like situations at a country estate. An underlying subtext offers a commentary on the Women's Movement of the 1970s.

Lily arrives at a country estate where a number of surreal/unusual events take place. Naked children are used to round up sheep. On the estate are a number of people including a man tending to the upkeep of the grounds (Joe Dallesandro) called Lily. He does not speak but somehow communicates through touch. His sister (Alexandra Stewart) who also helps on the estate with rounding up sheep is also called Lily (they are credited at the end of the film as Brother Lily and Sister Lily). Therese Giehse plays a bedridden woman (credited as Old Lady) who communicates with a large rat, and also operates a ham radio next to her bed. She is demanding. This includes when she is hungry she seeks milk and is breastfed by sister Lily, and later by Lily.

Lily pursues a unicorn around the estate. It later turns up in Old Lady's room. Lily prepares to breastfeed it and the film ends.

The film is dedicated to Therese Giehse who died shortly after the end of the film.

Despite the film's location in France the film's dialogue is in English.

Production notes[edit]

The film was shot in Malle's own 200-year-old manor house and Malle's surrounding 225-acre (0.91 km2) estate in the lush, wild Dordogne valley in Quercy, near Cahors.

Critical reception[edit]

At the time of release, Black Moon received mixed reviews and vanished into obscurity. It has since been screened at theatrical revivals and aired on the Turner Classic Movies channel.

Film critic Jeff Stafford wrote:

Walking a fine line between fantasy and reality with the two occasionally merging, Black Moon refuses to conform to a conventional storyline and a description of the fantastical events that take place could easily give one the wrong impression and misrepresent the cinematic experience Malle intended. The director was well aware of this, saying "I don't know how to describe Black Moon because it's a strange melange - if you want, it's a mythological fairy-tale taking place in the near future. There are several themes; one is the ultimate civil war...the war between men and women. I say the 'ultimate civil war,' because through the 1970s we'd been watching all this fighting between people of different religions and races and political beliefs. And this was, of course, the climax and great moment of women's liberation. So, we follow a young girl, in this civil war; she's trying to escape, and in the middle of the wood she finds a house which seems to be abandoned. When she enters the house, she obviously enters another world; she's in the presence of an old lady in bed, who speaks a strange language and converses with a huge rat on her bedside table. She goes from discovery to discovery - it's a sort of initiation." The film has obvious connections to the writings of Lewis Carroll as well as other films from the same period such as Robert Altman's Images (1972), which shares a similar fascination with unicorns, and Ingmar Bergman's bleak war allegory, Shame (1968). Malle freely admitted that Black Moon "conveys my admiration for and curiosity about Alice in Wonderland. And in the part I deliberately cast this English girl, Cathryn Harrison..."[1]

Awards[edit]

Black Moon was the winner of two French César Awards for sound and cinematography.

Home video[edit]

A digitally restored version of the film was released by The Criterion Collection in June 2011.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stafford, Jeff. "Black Moon
  2. ^ "Black Moon". The Criterion Collection. 

External links[edit]