Les creatures (1966)

aka The Creatures

Article 3678 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-25-2011
Posting Date: 9-9-2011
Directed by Agnes Varda
Featuring Catherine Deneuve, Michel Piccoli, Eva Dahlbeck
Country: Sweden / France
What it is: Fantastically themed art movie

After an accident, a writer and his wife (who has lost the power of speech) move into a castle, and have odd encounters with the local residents. The writer begins to suspect someone is practicing mind control on the residents…. or is he just writing a book about it?

The first thirty minutes of this strange little movie are impenetrable; events happen, but their significance within the scheme of things is nearly impossible to discern. It’s only when the writer reveals the nature of the book he is writing (in a conversation with a horse) that the movie gives out a clue on what to watch for, as well as providing the key to the fantastic content in the movie. I’m not sure whether the events portrayed are real or just part of the novel he’s writing, but I actually found it didn’t matter; the second half of the movie, in which the writer encounters the man behind the mind control and becomes engaged in a game with him in which the lives of the various people in the community are at risk, is fascinating to watch, and I like the movie’s symbolic use of the checkerboard pattern and the technique of darkening the screen to symbolize that the characters are under mind control . I’m not saying that I’ve scoped out the movie completely; there are still some questions I have about the action (such as whether or not a rabbit really talks back to the writer at one point, and what the significance of the final scene is), but considering the impenetrability of the first part of the movie, I was really glad it settled down into a more coherent and enjoyable groove. This one is recommended, but one should be aware that it’s an art film before taking it on.


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