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March 1997, Week 2


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Joshua Hirsch <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 11 Mar 1997 08:34:39 -0800
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I was about to mention Resnais/Cayrol's MURIEL, which involves the past
torture/rape/murder of the title character whom we never see, when someone
mentioned REBECCA. I've read about various connections between Resnais and
Hitchcock, and it suddenly hit me that there are some interesting parallels
between REBECCA and MURIEL (as there are between VERTIGO and LAST YEAR AT
I hesitate to compare REBECCA and MURIEL to UNFORGIVEN in terms of quality
(as the original query suggests). They're extremely different films, in
three different genres, by three important filmmakers. Since I'm working on
Resnais right now, I'll only say that I admire MURIEL as an ambitious
attempt to figure a physical, a personal, and a political landscape in one
gesture. Muriel herself is central in that respect; she is at the same time
the source of Bernard's personal trauma, the repressed of Boulogne as a
cityscape, and the victim of Algeria's political trauma.
(FYI the film takes place in Boulogne, France. Bernard is a French veteran
of the Algerian War, implicated and suffering guilt over the murder of an
Algerian woman named Muriel by a group of soldiers. There are no flashbacks
to the murder, only the projecting of a kind of homemade travelogue film of
Bernard's service in Algeria, over which he gives a fragmented narration of
the event. But the film-within-the-film shows only banal scenes of soldier
Joshua Hirsch
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