The Smiling Madame Beudet (Dulac, 1923)

The Smiling Madame Beudet (Germaine Dulac, 1923)

This film is considered one of the earliest pieces of feminist cinema. It’s probably because I’m a man, but I didn’t really see it as that. I saw it as a simple problematic relationship film. The husband and wife can’t agree on whether she should attend a show with him, she gets upset thinking about their marriage, and things almost go too far. I guess it’s considered feminist by the fact that she wasn’t 100% submissive in a time period where women were portrayed as such? But I feel like I’ve seen other films from this time period with realistic women characters.

Anyway, I actually think the film is stronger because I can’t recognize any feminist undertones. Where the film is weak is its short run time. This could have been longer and more developed, and I probably would have felt more sympathy for the main character than I could during what was presented. (I still don’t really get why she was so upset with her marriage.) The film’s editing and cinematography is great. Dulac had an obvious gift for creating unique images with double exposures, several different types of lighting, and just a keen eye for pretty shots. 7.75/10

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