Sometimes I happen to miss some great films of all time. Yesterday I had an amazing date with Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour – surreal and erotic late-sixties daydream. I’ve always loved Catherine Deneuve, therefore I want to share the movie that marked the beginning of a long-standing relationship, a unique partnership between the actress and Yves Saint Laurent and fixed her image for many years to come as the epitome of chic burgeoise.
With Luis Buñuel’s help and under his direction, Saint Laurent managed to convince her not to wear too short skirts in the movie in a time when mini-skirts were in fashion, so that the film would never become outdated and grounded to a certain historical moment.
The style in this movie has survived through generations, a quality of all Yves Saint Laurent’s designs, noted for their ‘classic modernity’. Catherine Deneuve has always evoked an eternal femininity through the timelessness of her classic looks and clothes and the designer played a great role in this from that moment on.
In Belle de Jour (1967) she is Séverine, an upper-middle-class wife who spends her afternoons as a prostitute in a luxurious Parisian brothel. Belle de Jour is something very rare in the world of cinema. As Jean-Claude Carriere, the screenwriter, said, for the first time in the history of cinema Luis Buñuel dealt in a perfectly clear and obvious way with female erotic fantasies, something no one else had attempted before. But it was done in the most discreet possible way, nothing explicit is revealed in the movie, as Buñuel wanted to see Séverine covered with clothes.
And Yves Saint Laurent did an excellent job. He worked very well with the director, understanding that garments must be sewn on the character. Figure-hugging, tailored, minimalist and cut just above the knee, including an element of sexual display, but a controlled and class-coded one, which protected the heroine. Buñuel watched clothes very closely and knew exactly what he wanted to express through them. In their ultra-sophistication, the clothes brought an almost surrealist aspect to the film, a typical Buñuel element.
Catherine Deneuve had all the qualities for the role: young, beautiful, with an aura of mystery emanating from her looks that she’s always managed to keep, and a kind of surface coldness; she could perfectly belong to that social class. And Belle de Jour is the most representative example of film as an art form.
What is your favorite film ever?