Mouchette

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Mouchette
Mouchette 1967 film poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byRobert Bresson
Produced byAnatole Dauman
Written byRobert Bresson
StarringNadine Nortier
Jean-Claude Guilbert
Maria Cardinal
Paul Hebert
Music byJean Wiener
Claudio Monteverdi
CinematographyGhislain Cloquet
Editing byRaymond Lamy
Distributed byUGC / CFDC
Release datesOctober 26, 1967
Running time78 min.
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench
 
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This article is about Robert Bresson's film. For the Internet art project, see Mouchette.org.
Mouchette
Mouchette 1967 film poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byRobert Bresson
Produced byAnatole Dauman
Written byRobert Bresson
StarringNadine Nortier
Jean-Claude Guilbert
Maria Cardinal
Paul Hebert
Music byJean Wiener
Claudio Monteverdi
CinematographyGhislain Cloquet
Editing byRaymond Lamy
Distributed byUGC / CFDC
Release datesOctober 26, 1967
Running time78 min.
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench

Mouchette (pronounced: [mu.ʃɛt]) is a 1967 French film directed by Robert Bresson, starring Nadine Nortier and Jean-Claude Guilbert. It is based on the novel by Georges Bernanos. It was entered into the 1967 Cannes Film Festival, winning the OCIC Award (International Catholic Organization for Cinema and Audiovisual).[1]

Mouchette tells the story of a girl entering adolescence, the daughter of a bullying alcoholic father and ailing mother set in a rural French village. One stormy night Mouchette's world changes.

It is a coming of age film which Bresson portrays in his own unique style. According to Bresson, "Mouchette offers evidence of misery and cruelty. She is found everywhere: wars, concentration camps, tortures, assassinations."

The Criterion Collection DVD release includes a trailer for this film made by Jean-Luc Godard.

Plot[edit]

This is the tale of a young girl whose life is filled with tragedy. Mouchette (Nadine Nortier), whose name means "little fly," lives in an isolated French village with her alcoholic father and bedridden mother, where she takes care of her infant brother and does all the housework.

The film opens with a gamekeeper, Mathieu (Jean Vimenet), watching a poacher, Arsène (Jean-Claude Gilbert), as he sets his snares in the sunlit woods.

Mouchette is first introduced at her school, in bedraggled clothes and oversized clogs, where she is mocked by her classmates and chastised by her teacher, first for refusing to sing, and then for singing off-key. To correct this, her teacher grabs her by the head, orienting Mouchette's ear toward the piano keys, while striking the correct note several times. Later, Mouchette throws mud at several girls in her class who run away.

Later, in a contrast to the misery of her daily life, Mouchette goes to the fair and rides on the bumper cars. She meets a young man who bumps his car into hers several times. She bumps into his a few times. Despite the physical shocks incurred upon her during the activity, Mouchette seems to overlook them, and even likes the young man. Afterwards her father abruptly intervenes, slapping her on the face before she can speak to the boy.

While walking home from school one day, she gets lost in the woods and must seek shelter in a nearby house when a fierce rainstorm falls. The owner of the house, Arsène, an alcoholic epileptic, fears he has killed a man with whom he had fought and attempts to use Mouchette as an alibi to disabuse him of the blame. After she agrees to repeat the story he gives her, Arsène rapes her. They fall asleep together next to a fire and in the morning they both leave the cabin and Mouchette walks home. Later in the day, when confronted about the fight in the woods, she tries to offer the agreed upon story, having to state reluctantly that she was at Arsène's house through the night because they were lovers.

Returning home and finding her mother's condition worsening, she attempts to assuage her fears by comforting her. When her mother eventually succumbs to this sickness, she is invited into the house of an elderly woman who gives her several dresses as well as a shroud to cover her mother upon her mourning. After Mouchette insults her and damages the elderly woman's carpet, she leaves where she goes to a nearby lake, covers herself in the shroud, rolls herself downhill into the water.

Cast[edit]

Mouchette stands at the gate of the rides of the fair, looking at the people in the rides.

Besides his preference for non-professional actors, Bresson also liked to cast actors he had never used before. The one major exception is Jean-Claude Guilbert, who had the rôle of Arnold in Au hasard Balthazar, and plays Arsène in this film.[2]

ActorRole
Nadine NortierMouchette
Jean-Claude GuilbertArsène
Marie CardinalMother
Paul HebertFather
Jean VimenetMathieu
Marie SusiniMathieu's wife
Suzanne HugueninLayer-out of the Dead
Marine TrichetLouisa
Raymonde ChabrunGrocer

Critical reviews[edit]

Mouchette is considered as one of the best of Bresson's films by critics. Sight & Sound's prestigious critics’ poll placed Mouchette in the top 20 in 1972.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Mouchette". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  2. ^ Joseph Cunneen, "The Purity of Rebellion: Mouchette" Robert Bresson: A Spiritual Style in Film. New York: Continuum (2003): 118.

External links[edit]