Wednesday, February 22, 2012

La Coquille et le Clergyman - 1928

Country: France
Director: Germaine Dulac
Writer: Antonin Artaud, Germaine Dulac (uncredited)
Stars: Alex Allin, Genica Athanasiou and Lucien Bataille
Also known as: A kagyló és a lelkész (Hungary), El clérigo y la caracola (Argentina),
Muszelka i pastor (Poland), The Seashell and the Clergyman (International - English title)
Filming Locations: Paris, France
Production Co: Délia Film
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
The British Board of Film Censors banned this film in the UK in 1927, saying, "This film is so obscure as to have no apparent meaning. If there is a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable."
At the film's premier, writer Antonin Artaud, who was obviously not pleased by what director Germaine Dulac did to his screenplay, shouted at the screen, calling her a cow.
Plot Keywords: Lust | Nudity | Surrealism | Seashell | Obsession  |  Female Nudity | Controversy | Avant Garde | Priest
Genres: Short
Obsessed with a general's woman, a clergyman has strange visions of death and lust, struggling against his own eroticism.
The predecessor of Un Chien Andalou and directed by the lone woman filmmaker of her time, La Coquille et le Clergyman is one of the most celebrated of French avant-garde movies of the '20s, partly because Antonin Artaud wrote the script, partly because the British censor of the time banned it with the legendary words 'If this film has a meaning, it is doubtless objectionable'. Artaud was reputedly unhappy with Dulac's realization of his scenario, and it's true that the story's anti-clericalism (a priest develops a lustful passion that plunges him into bizarre fantasies) is somewhat undermined by the director's determined visual lyricism. But the fragmentation of the narrative and the innovative imagery remain provocative, and the film is of course fascinating testimony to the currents of its time.

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