The Smiling Madame Beudet (La Souriante Madame Beudet)

The Smiling Madame Beudet

You would deserve that more than me…

The Smiling Madame Beudet is a French silent short widely considered to be the first example of feminism in film. Ably directed by Germaine Dulac, the film deals with a woman in a loveless marriage who decides to take matters into her own hands. At least, that’s about as much as I gathered; the film is very surreal, and the story itself plays second fiddle to the random imagery that pervades the film, though not as obviously random as Un Chien Andalou. There’s at least a narrative here.

The one thing I noticed right off is how much Dulac uses the aperture itself in her shots. Most of the cuts are of sharp closing and openings of the aperture of the camera, and this takes some getting used to. The shots themselves are also framed with the aperture, which I’ve never really seen done before, so the film has that uniqueness going for it at least. The film uses many innovative (for the time) practices, such as double exposure to create ghost and dream-like effects, and displays a grand understanding of the way films are structured even to the modern day, which was quite impressive given the time period the film comes from. And in keeping with my celebrity lookalikes, the man who plays Mr. Beudet bears a striking resemblance to a greater-haired John Goodman. Just another little thing to distract you while you watch the film, from me.

This one was short; the book lists it at 54 minutes, but the version I saw was a scant 38, so you won’t have much time to lose with this one. Give it a shot and see if its particular brand of weirdness is your sort of thing. I was at least entertained through the film, though I am still trying to make up my mind as to whether or not I enjoyed it.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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