Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman

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Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman
Don Juan 73.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Roger Vadim
Written by Jean Cau
Roger Vadim
Jean-Pierre Petrolacci
Starring Brigitte Bardot
Robert Hossein
Mathieu Carrière
Jane Birkin
Music by Michel Magne
Cinematography Henri Decaë
Andréas Winding
Edited by Victoria Mercanton
Distributed by Cocinor
Scotia American
Release dates
  • February 22, 1973 (1973-02-22) (France)
  • April 21, 1973 (1973-04-21) (Italy)
Running time
90 min
Country France
Italy
Language French
Swedish
English
Box office 949,912 admissions (France)[1]

Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman (French: Don Juan ou Si Don Juan était une femme...) is a 1973 French-Italian drama film by Roger Vadim. It sees Vadim reunite with his leading lady and ex-wife Brigitte Bardot for their fifth film together. Bardot achieved international stardom and Vadim got his break when he directed her in the 1956 sensation, And God Created Woman. It was her second last film before retiring.[2]

Plot[edit]

Jeanne (Bardot) plays a modern-day Don Juan–styled woman who prides herself in the destruction of men that have fallen for her charms. She reveals to a priest a murder she committed and frankly details her past sexual encounters.[3]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Roger Vadim said in an interview after the film came out:

My attitude to women is accepted today in a way that it wasn't when I started out as director. But today woman overreact - they pretend to be free on an intellectual and sexual level but because of our Christian traditions sex is always associated with guilt. Now however it's possible for a woman to have the same relationship with sex as a man - a man who is a lover can be a Don Juan whereas women like that were always considered whores or femmes faciles. But I think a woman can be free without being a whore. A female Don Juan can exist nowadays without a sense of guilt.[4]

He later elaborated:

Don Juan is the end of a period - problems about love and sex, cruelty and romanticism on an aesthetic level - and I wanted to finish that period with Brigitte because I started with her as a director (And God Created Woman). Underneath what people call "the Bardot myth" was something interesting, even though she was never considered the most professional actress in the world. For years, since she has been growing older, and the Bardot myth has become just a souvenir, I wanted to work with Brigitte. I was curious in her as a woman and I had to get to the end of something with her, to get out of her and express many things I felt were in her. Brigitte always gave the impression of sexual freedom - she is a completely open and free person, without any aggression. So I gave her the part of a man - that amused me.[4]

Vadim said he was attracted to the character of Don Juan was "the sense of defiance on every level. Its someone who refuses to be involved in any system. In the film it's a woman who defies men - and I do the film like the character - against all the rules."[4] Vadim says he deliberately pulled back on the sex scenes. "I was interested in the idea of seduction, not what happened in bed - though I would love to make a documentary on how they fucked."[4]

Jane Birkin plays the role of a woman who falls in love with Brigitte Bardot's character. "I accepted immediately just to be in bed with Bardot," said Birkin later. ""She's the most utterly perfect woman. There's not a fault. God knows, I looked. Even her feet are pretty."[5]

"If there's homosexuality between men they have to be queer," said Vadim. "But women can have relationships with other women without being dykes. Brigitte seduced this girl to hit the man and the girl is enchanted not to be treated as a sex object for once in her life.""[4]

"If Don Juan is not my last movie it will be my next to last," said Bardot during filming.[6]

Reception[edit]

The film received poor reviews in France.[4]

The Guardian said the movie, "like so many of his [Vadim's] films, has some beautiful photography and slick editing but few plausible scenes. Incapable of creating an illusion, Vadim is eminently capable of creating an illusion of creativity."[4] "It stinks" said another review for the same paper.[7]

"I have seen as much passion, and almost as much flesh, at the Test match," said the Observer.[8]

David Thomson, in his Biographical History of Film, thought there was "awful sadness" in Bardot's appearance.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Box office information for film at Box Office Story
  2. ^ Newsmakers----: Comic Finds Ford Hard Act to Follow Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Apr 1976: a2.
  3. ^ Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were a Woman) (1973) Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 21 August 2010
  4. ^ a b c d e f g ROGER VADIM Wilson, Timothy. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 07 Apr 1973: 9.
  5. ^ When a small front need not hold you back Mills, Nancy. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 11 Oct 1977: 9.
  6. ^ Brigitte Bardot: No longer a sex symbol Morgan, Gwen. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 04 Mar 1973: d3.
  7. ^ Putting on the Fritz: Derek Malcolm reviews the new films Malcolm, Derek. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 25 July 1974: 10.
  8. ^ Henry Streisand, for Pete's sake: RUSSELL DAVIES at the Cinema Davies, Russell. The Observer (1901- 2003) [London (UK)] 28 July 1973: 27.
  9. ^ David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary Of Film 5Th Ed, Hachette UK, 4 Nov 2010 accessed 4 January 2015

External links[edit]