Saturday Night Cinema: La Vérité (The Truth)

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“Suppose I’m a tramp… why can’t I be in love?” (U.S. movie poster)


Tonight’s Saturday Night Cinema is often overlooked La Vérité (The Truth) (1960) starring the breathtakingly beautiful Brigitte Bardot, whom I just adore. Not just because she is impossibly gorgeous and talented, but she spoke bravely and candidly about Islam, and was punished repeatedly for it.

She has courage. Love that.

Clouzot was already nearing his mid fifties when he directed the then 25 year old year old Bardot to brigitte bardot arguably her greatest performance. Viewed today, La Verite is a striking reminder to the talents of two distinct and iconic artists, with Clouzot’s carefully thought out compositions perfectly capturing Bardot at her most vulnerable and most brilliant.
The film, scripted mainly by Clouzot, tells the tragic tale of Dominique Marceau, imprisoned and on trial for the murder of her boyfriend Gilbert Tellier. Clouzot, shooting the film through a series of flashbacks intercut with her trial, cleverly asks the audience to do the same thing the court is doing throughout the film; namely to pass judgment on Dominique and to finally decipher what exactly it is that constitutes ‘the truth’. (more)

Bardot made headlines several times for her “controversial remarks about the role of Islam in French society. Indeed, she was convicted of incitement of racial hatred (under this French law) no fewer than four times” – mainly for comments highly critical of France’s immigration and assimilation policies.

Bardot’s first offence, for which she was found guilty in 1997, was to use a newspaper column to complain of the ‘foreign overpopulation’ of France. In 2000, she was convicted for having written in her book Pluto’s Square that ‘my country, France, my homeland, my land is again invaded by an overpopulation of foreigners, especially Muslims.’ In 2004, she was found guilty for having published another book, A Cry in the Silence, in which she established a generalised link between Islam and the terrorist attacks that took place on 11 September 2001 and again argued that immigration was leading to a ‘Islamisation of France’. 2008 brought a fourth conviction after a letter she had written to Nicolas Sarkozy (then France’s minister of the interior, known for his hard-line stance against immigration) in which she referred to France’s Muslim population as ‘this population which leads us by the nose and destroys us and our country’ had been leaked to the press. (more here)

She has courage. Love that.

La Verite — “the truth.” (more)

Le Verite Bardot

LA VÉRITÉ (“The Truth”) is a 1960 French-Italian suspenser, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. It stars Brigitte Bardot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel, Sami Frey and Marie-José Nat. The original screenplay was by Clouzot, Simone Drieu, Michèle Perrein, Jérôme Géronimi, Christiane Rochefort and Véra Clouzot. Raoul J. Lévy was the producer.

Dominique Marceau (Bardot) is in jail, charged with the murder of her lover, Gilbert Tellier (Frey). As the trial proceeds, she recalls the past events that led to her present predicament. Dominique lived her own life as a free woman, and seduced Gilbert — who was her sister’s fiancée — for fun, while dating several other men. Her lawyer (Vanel) is prepared to try anything to help her, but the rules of society are against Dominique. And the truth may not be enough to save her.

After the financial failure of Clouzot’s 1957 film, “Les Espions”, producer Raoul Levy suggested that the director’s next film should star Brigitte Bardot. In response, Clouzot began work on the screenplay for LA VÉRITÉ, which would become France’s’ second most popular film of 1960, and Bardot’s highest grossing picture. The actress later described LA VÉRITÉ as her favorite of all the films she worked on.

In the U.S., LA VÉRITÉ was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but lost to Ingmar Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring”. The movie was filmed in the Studios Joinville, outside of Paris, and through out the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area of the city. Armand Thirard, who collaborated with Clouzot on both “Diabolique” and “The Wages of Fear”, among others, was the cinematographer.

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