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Andrzej Zulawski's La Femme Publique (The Public Woman, 1984) UNCUT Special Edition [Digipak] by MONDO VISION

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A young actress, Ethel, coming from nowhere, is trying to create a personality through her body and her indestructible resolve if necessary, through Elena, her lovers wife who has disappeared. Two men: Lucas Kesling, ambitious cinema director with diabolical powers, and Milan, fallen angel on an earth cracking beneath his feet, both fighting to possess Ethel. The restless filming of a viscontian movie adapted from Dostoyevsky's "The Possessed" in an opulent and smothering set. A political conspiracy conspiring to do away with the prelate from Eastern Europe, which Milan is inadvertently caught up in. An oppressing and eerie Paris transformed into an expressionist universe which these hunted characters are trying to escape from.

These are essential elements of La Femme Publique (The Public Woman), Andrzej Zulawksi's 6th film, where the obsessive themes of his dazzling career Trzecia Czesc Nocy (The Third Part of the Night,1971), L'Important C'est D'aimer (The Important Thing is to Love,1975), and Possession (1981) become entangled.

ANDRZEJ ZULAWSKI's La Femme Publique is a cinematic milestone rich with extreme imagery and raw emotions. Twenty five years after its controversial inception at the Cannes Film Festival, this story of a young, struggling actress retains the power to shock even the most seasoned of movie goers with its violently stylish, apocalyptic tone. A woman s destiny, divided between angel and demon...An hour and 54 minutes of painful happiness, La Femme Publique scratches the soul, slaps the eyes, and seduces like the maelstrom that each one of us hides beyond the conscious. To summarize La Femme Publique is impossible, dangerous and impoverishing. Zulawski is not a man of words; he plays and juggles with the image, the color, the rhythm, the sound, the music, and this unspeakable shamelessness that he steals from his actors so effectively. Between humor and paroxysm, La Femme Publique is a fascinating metaphysical experience with a degree of intensity that needs to be seen to be believed. Simply put, it represents cinema at its most insane & brilliant.

- Special Screening & Mention @ 1984 Cannes Film Festival

-Montréal World Film Festival:
Most Popular Film Of The Festival
Special Prize of the Jury

César Awards, France
Best Actress: Valérie Kaprisky
Best Supporting Actor: Lambert Wilson
Best Writing Adaptation: Andrzej Zulawski
Best Writing Adaptation: Dominique Garnier


MONDO VISION presents the first ever North American release of Andrzej Zulawski's highly anticipated and sought after film La Femme Publique (The Public Woman, 1984) in a gorgeous transfer with all new English Subtitles, UNCUT & Fully Uncensored.

  • Digitally Restored Transfer Mastered In High Definition Progressive Video (Approved by Director Andrzej Zulawski)
  • Feature Length Audio Commentary With Director Andrzej Zulawski And Writer Daniel Bird
  • Exclusive New Video Interview With Director Andrzej Zulawski
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • DVD-ROM Content
  • Image Gallery
  • 24page Booklet Featuring a Newly Written Essay by Daniel Bird


Le Femme Publique is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and original Mono French soundtrack as intended by Andrzej Zulawski. This Dual Layer disc has been transferred and encoded using a high-frequency process which preserves as much of the detail and texture from the original film as is possible on the NTSC DVD format.

UPC: 837654024652
Catalog#: MVSE001


Like the theatrical milieu of L' important C'est D'Aimer (The Important Thing Is To Love, 1975), this depiction of passionate complications during the making of a film vibrates with actorly trauma, romantic angst and shrieking conflicts of ego. Brashly utilizing distanciation techniques as if they were his personal contribution to the language of film, Zulawski gives De Palma a run for his money in the realm of reflexive cheek. What he adds to the panoply of Nouvelle Vague motifs on display is a consistent ability to wring intense performances from his casts; here, Kaprisky and Huster belt out their antagonistic tirades with blistering energy.

The crystal clear, blue-tinged photography of Possession (1981) - such an inspiration to Argento as he embarked on Tenebrae - is replaced here by burnt orange and wood-glow tones, courtesy of the incomparable Sacha Vierny (famed for his marvelous work on Last Year In Marienbad, and now the regular collaborator of Peter Greenaway).

Existing in a highly excited state of over-stimulation, Zulawski s characters have to shout and scream to be heard over the ferocious buzz of a culture hypostatized in a convulsive urge to depict, represent, speak.

Compared to Zulawski, many filmmakers are still playing "Buy A Broom". --Excerpts from a review by Stephen Thrower, ©EYEBALL Magazine, Issue .4, Winter 1996

Trzecia Czesc Nocy (The Third Part of the Night, 1971), L' Important C'est D'aimer (The Important Thing Is To Love, 1975), Possession (1981), and now this new cataclysmic poem of a blossomed Polish director, who is also maybe rootless, in France. Far from the constraining bureaucracies but very close to this panic, to this fantasy, that rejoins the collective unconscious. La Femme Publique (The Public Woman), like Zulawski's other movies, is an essential film. A very contemporary story, that reminisces of the eternal myths! --Excerpt from a review by Gilles Gressard, 1984

Zulawski is a mortal enemy of rational, measured filmmaking. Excess is the key to each scene. The actors all seem afflicted with St. Vitus' Dance, the camera too. Characters don t converse as much as rant, they don t interact, but collide. Copulation, brutality and murders are everyday activities.... Zulawski's vision of the world is sick and sordid. --(Variety)

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Francis Huster, Valerie Kaprisky, Lambert Wilson, Yveline Ailhaud, Diane Delor
  • Directors: Andrzej Zulawski
  • Format: Anamorphic, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Mondo Vision
  • DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001BNSHZ0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,418 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Andrzej Zulawski's La Femme Publique (The Public Woman, 1984) UNCUT Special Edition [Digipak] by MONDO VISION" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel J. Sardella on November 13, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
La Femme Publique (The Public Woman) (1984) is the story of aspiring young actress Ethel (played by the stunning and versatile Valérie Kaprisky), who by accepting a role in a film based on Dostoyevsky's 'The Possessed', directed by controversial Czech filmmaker Lucas Kessling (played with icy cool and raving madness by Francis Huster) is sucked into a world of manipulation, political conspiracy and confusion.

There are many subplots in this film and the line between reality and acting is blurred for both Ethel and the viewer, but this doesn't detract from the beautifully composed shots, visual style and colors or the film itself.

This was the first film I've viewed by Polish director Andrzej Zulawski and it has left me impressed. I'll definitely be seeking out more films by him.


The Hi-Def Anamorphic film transfer (approved by Zulawski) retains the film's original 1.66:1 ratio and was undertaken by gifted UK videophile David Mackenzie ([...]) and it is a visual feast - clean, vibrant, film-like (grain!) and overall - amazing. The audio is crisp and well-balanced.


Commentary with Zulawski
An interesting interview with the director where he talks about, among other things, co-writing the film with the Dominique Garnier, author of the original novel.
Image gallery


Here's the other area (besides the film transfer) where this DVD really shines. The Premium Collector's Edition packaging is absolutely gorgeous. It is black box with red holo-foil stamping, great artwork, 10 B&W photo reproductions (with their own envelope), a Certificate of Authenticity (ltd.
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Great, less hysterical, mid period Zulawski about an independent woman who tries to make it in the world of acting, amidst the usual exploitation one goes through to express themselves for commerce. She is sandwiched in a crazy bisexual love triangle between two psychotic male actors, one who thinks he's hitler, and the other who might as well be Hitlers boyfriend and is some some of political freedom fighter! Valerie Kaprisky is a sexual stun-gun, she appreas naked for large chunks of the film and has a booty that great artworks are based upon - including this film!

Mondo Vision has presented this film in an eye-watering print, you get a Zulawski commenatary and 15 minute interview. The disc itself is pretty much like your standard Blue Underground presentation, modest though not chock full of extras. The packaging of the disc itself is the kicker. Whilst this is only the 'sepcial edition', you get a digipack encased in solid carboard box with a little ribbon to help extract it from it's sleeve. Full colour thickish booklet with lots of intellectual essay work on Zulawski. My copy had little tissue paper insets to protect the booklet! This disc is a collector-scum's wet dream!

Seriously in a depressed market, the fact that Mondo Vision have gone to this length to present a fine intellectual obscurity like this, in such a presentation is cause enough to vote with your pocket and purchase it! It's worth every cent!
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Valerie Kaprisky plays her roles from the inside out --- she holds nothing back --- vulnerable and struggling as any young person would be in a new world --- new to them --- she carries the film from beginning to end.
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This film must have your undivided attention while viewing.
This is due to the sub title translation throughout
It is a story about a young woman that as it unfolds the viewer
,taking the time to digest the scene, can follow and understand.
There is alot of sex for sure which may offend some people but
this is not free love. It is her love, her life.
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What makes a Zulawski film feel like one? There is something about the story that is very different than other movies; they are both intense and dramatic, while also being artistic and theatrical. Because of Zulawski's style, he just might be one of those directors that you either love or hate. While I am not going to pretend I understand everything Zulawski does or intends to convey in his films, I can appreciate them for what I get out of watching them.

The Public Woman (1984) is a movie that has several layers and subplots to the story. So in some ways, it is a very complicated movie as it is easy to get lost in the story (at least for a little while) if one doesn't pay attention to what is going on. The larger frame of the story is "this is a movie about people making a movie," so we have a story in a story. Many things in the story have a reverse or a mirror of it, echoing the general framework. And if we step back one more level, the entire thing is a movie -- much like viewing a reflection of a reflection of a reflection.

The main character of this film is an amateur actress named Ethel (Valerie Kaprisky). She is beautiful and young and makes her money as a model. When she meets Lucas Kessling (Francis Huster), a director making a movie based on Dostoevsky's novel "The Devils," she is given an opportunity to be transformed into something great. Not only does Kessling direct the movie being made, but he also plays one of the leading roles of his film. Kessling pushes Ethel to perform, and supposedly Zulawski also pushes his actresses to perform their best, so I couldn't help but wonder if there are any parallels between this director and Zulawski himself.
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