The Bride Wore Black

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This article is about the film by François Truffaut. For other uses, see The Bride Wore Black (disambiguation).
The Bride Wore Black
Mariee noir.jpg
The original theatrical poster
Directed by François Truffaut
Produced by Marcel Berbert
Oscar Lewenstein
Written by François Truffaut
Jean-Louis Richard
Based on La Mariée Était en Noir by William Irish
Starring Jeanne Moreau
Michel Bouquet
Jean-Claude Brialy
Charles Denner
Michael Lonsdale
Serge Rousseau
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Antonio Vivaldi
Cinematography Raoul Coutard
Edited by Claudine Bouché
Production
  company
Les Films du Carrosse
Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s)
  • 17 April 1968 (1968-04-17)
Running time 107 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget $747,000[1]
Box office $2 million[1]

The Bride Wore Black (French: La Mariée était en noir) is a 1968 French film directed by François Truffaut and based on the novel of the same name by William Irish, a pseudonym for Cornell Woolrich. It stars Jeanne Moreau, Charles Denner, Alexandra Stewart, Michel Bouquet, Michael Lonsdale, Claude Rich and Jean-Claude Brialy.

It is a revenge film in which a widowed woman hunts down the five men who killed her husband on her wedding day. She methodically kills each of the men using various methods and dressing only in white, black or both.

Plot[edit]

As the film opens, Julie Kohler (Jeanne Moreau) tries to throw herself out of an upstairs window, but is stopped by her mother (Luce Fabiole). Julie is dressed in black and is obviously grief-stricken. She tells her mother she is going on a long trip, and counts out five piles of money. She gets onto a train, but right afterwards steps down on the hidden side.

The next time we see Julie, her hair is different, she is wearing white, and looking for a man called Bliss. He (Claude Rich), a ladies' man who is having a party on the eve of his wedding, but when Julie shows up, aloof but attractive, he cannot resist approaching her. When they are alone on the balcony of Bliss's high-rise apartment, she tells him her name and pushes him off the balcony.

Her next victim is Coral (Michel Bouquet), a lonely bachelor. She lures him to a concert and they agree to meet the following night. Before their rendezvous, Julie buys a bottle of arak and injects a syringe of poison into it. When she meets Coral at his apartment, she serves him the drink. When he collapses in agony, she reveals her identity to him. He begs for his life, explaining that it was all an accident. We see (in flashback) a wedding procession on the steps of a church; a single shot rings out and the groom falls to the ground. Julie is the widowed bride.

The next man is Morane (Michel Lonsdale) a politician. She follows his wife and young son, befriends the boy, and manages to get the wife to leave. Julie poses as the boy's teacher Miss Becker, and offers to cook dinner for Morane and his son. Afterwards she plays hide-and-seek with the boy, hiding in an enclosed small closet underneath the stairs, before putting the boy to bed. As she is leaving the house, she "notices" that she has "lost her ring". Morane helps her search, climbing into the closet where she had hidden earlier. She slams the door and locks Morane inside. Julie reveals her true identity, and he pleads for his life, saying what happened was an accident.

We see (again in flashback) that Julie's husband was killed by a rifle shot fired by Delvaux (Daniel Boulanger), one of a group of five friends, a sort of informal hunting club, that also included Bliss, Coral, Morane and Fergus. The five men were carelessly horsing around with a loaded rifle in a room high up across the street from the church. After the incident the five men go their own ways, intending never to face up to their responsibility for the groom's death. Remorseless, Julie seals the door of Morane's closet, where he suffocates to death.

Julie then waits in Delvaux's junkyard, planning to kill him with a handgun, but he is arrested by the police. Julie moves on to find the fifth member of the hunting group: Fergus (Charles Denner), an artist. Julie models for him as the huntress Diana, eventually shooting him in the back with an arrow. She cuts her face out of his painting, covering her tracks, as she has done with the other murders. Fergus had painted a mural on his wall depicting her reclining in the nude. Julie decides to paint over the mural's face, but changes her mind, and leaves.

Julie attends Fergus' funeral and allows herself to be arrested. She admits that she murdered the four men, but refuses to reveal her motives.

Inside a prison, a meal cart is making its rounds. We see that Julie is a prisoner in the women's wing, and Delvaux is on the men's side. When Julie works in the kitchen, she hides a knife. When the cart makes its rounds, it turns a corner out of our sight. After a brief pause, a man's scream is heard.

Cast[edit]

Critical reaction[edit]

The film received hostile criticism in France on its original release, and Truffaut later admitted that he no longer liked the film, and that the critics were right.[3] During the 1983 Chicago International Film Festival, Truffaut was asked which of his films he would change if he could. He named this film, saying that it was the first time "we" had worked in color and the emotional tone of many scenes came out wrong. In fact, two years earlier, Truffaut had made Fahrenheit 451 in England in color with Nicholas Roeg as his cinematographer. Clarification became available in 2009, when Robert Osborne introduced Turner Classic Movie's showing of The Bride Wore Black. Cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who had worked with Truffaut on five previous films, had already made several color films with Godard and had his own ideas on shooting. Coutard and Truffaut had multiple day-long arguments, and in many scenes direction to the actors was provided by the film's star, Jeanne Moreau. At the film's premiere, Truffaut was tormented by the contrast between the emotional notes he had intended to give the actors and the finished film, but he had been too discreet in 1983 to admit the depths of his disappointment or to blame Coutard even indirectly.

Despite the critical reaction, it was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film was also a financial success, having 1,274,411 and 867,293 cinema admissions in France and Spain respectively. In addition the film grossed $2,000,000 in rentals worldwide, $1.75 million of which came from outside North America.[1]

It earned rentals of $32,000 in the US.[4]

Influence[edit]

It inspired the 1976 Indian-Hindi film Nagin.[5] The film was also the inspiration for Kate Bush's song "The Wedding List" on her album Never for Ever.[6]

Although Kill Bill by Quentin Tarantino tells a very similar story, even down to the notebooks in which the brides cross off their victims' names once they have killed them, Tarantino has stated that he has never seen The Bride Wore Black.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company The Changed the Film Industry, Uni of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p 282
  2. ^ Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 228-229.
  3. ^ Truffaut, interview with Richard Roud for Camera Three (1977), released on the Criterion Collection edition of Jules et Jim, Disc 2.
  4. ^ Who's Going to have the Mermaid?: Who's Going to Save the Mermaid? By VINCENT CANBY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 Apr 1970: D1
  5. ^ http://www.rediff.com/movies/2001/aug/02us.htm
  6. ^ Irwin, Colin. "Paranoia and Passion of the Kate Inside", Melody Maker, 10 October 1980. Accessed: 12 November 2011.
  7. ^ Tomohiro Machiyama, Interview with Quentin Tarantino, Japanese magazine Eiga Hi-Ho (Movie Treasures), 28 August 2003

External links[edit]