The Criterion Collection
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(Jan 26, 1999)
The Criterion Collection
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An acknowledged influence on Psycho, Henri-Georges Clouzot's horror classic is the story of a sadistic headmaster who brutalizes his fragile wife and his headstrong mistress. The two women murder him and dump his body in a swimming pool; when the pool is drained, no corpse is found. Criterion presents Diabolique in a new digital transfer.
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One of Clouzot's most popular works. With Vera Clouzot as Christine, the headmistress of her "Institution Delasalle" a boarding school in Saint-Cloud she directs with Michel, a cheap husband played by Paul Meurisse. A man who mistreats her and his students like a tyrant, for instance feeding them with cheap and tasteless meals, and who cheats behind his wife's back with Nicole, a teacher who works at the boarding school. A woman who's had enough of her lover's abusive manners and has concocted a plan. One she proposes to Christine, her sole friend in this "huis-clos" they work inside and in which the director makes us peep with his camera.
A murder so diabolical that it shocked its audience. And is still doing so today.
One that I don't dare reveal for fear of ruining other people's surprise. A silence which the director, Henri-Georges Clouzot, also asks his audience to follow as the film ends. To not be Diabolical and to not reveal the plot or its twist. Especially its astonishing ending that makes you jump in your seat, giving you shivers and asking how all of this could have happened. A finale certain film guides have had the disrespect of revealing.
Ruining a pleasure that this movie affords us. The chance of feeling a story's tension. Tragedy which Clouzot has had the brilliancy of not displaying any non-diegetic music, except a main theme during the starting and ending credits. An absence of music that makes the story more realistic, which a soundtrack would have ruined as it would have reminded to us that we are watching a movie. Whereas this time, he makes the drama more human, creating the tension through the actors' acting and his editing. As to whether or not Christine will do it or not. How will people will react to Nicole's plan's outcome if they do manage to succeed it. And will anyone find out the truth.
By the way, I have to applaud the cover Criterion did for their Blu-Ray release. An black-and-white engraving with gray and red as colors; artwork that also continues on the Blu-Ray's leaflet, which hints a little clue to the movie. One that still leaves goosebumps even if you've already watched the movie.
Of its special features, nothing too extravagant even for a film classic, which is astonishing considering the film's renown. A commentary, a video introduction on the movie by Serge Bromberg, who directed the documentary "Inferno", an intewrview with Kim Newman, the film's Original trailer in France, and a leaflet by film critics.
Which is a bummer as I wish we could have had more. Either a biography of Simone Signoret or on Vera Clouzot, or even interviews from the fifties about this movie.
Nevertheless, a good HD transfer of a classic with its original monaural sound.
A classic that has and is still leaving its mark on the public.
And on filmmakers.
Most recent customer reviews
Boarding school plots.