EARLY WORD: Marquee Moon


Acclaimed French auteur Louis Malle’s underrated 1975 surrealist opus, Black Moon, will be screened this Saturday at the International House. Malle’s body of work is characteristically impossible to pin down—he directed over 30 films spanning an array of genres, from My Dinner With Andre to Au Revoir Les Infants. Black Moon is undeniably bizarre and completely unlike any of his other films. It was written in collaboration with Joyce Buñuel, the daughter-in-law of legendary surrealist filmmaker Louis Buñuel, as a coming of age fantasy, set amidst an apocalyptic world war that, according to Malle, is symbolic of the social upheaval triggered by the French feminist movement of the 70s. It takes place during an eternal dawn in the countryside where the sun always appears to be on the brink of rising, but never does; the colors are muted, the light is dusky and diffuse and characters are without shadow. The acclaimed cinematographer Sven Nykvist—who is famous for his epic collaborations with Ingmar Bergman, developed Black Moon’s psycho-pastoral aesthetic. The film’s lead is a young woman (played by Cathryn Harrison) who is fleeing for her life when we first meet her. In true Alice in Wonderland fashion she stumbles upon an otherworldly house—filmed at Louis Malle’s actual residence—in the middle of the woods where she finds a pair of incestuous twins, their herd of naked children, and their mother—an elderly invalid. Alexandra Stewart (Malle’s partner at the time) and Joe Dallesandro (known for starring in Andy Warhol’s films) play the twins. The distinguished German actress Therese Giehse—who notably was Mother Courage in Bertold Brecht’s first theater production of Mother Courage and Her Children—plays the invalid mother, who communicates with the world through radio signals, and who—in a grotesque role reversal—survives by being breast fed…wait for it…by her daughter. The film’s elusive meaning is filtered through symbols and allegory minus the niceties of narrative coherence. Malle has said of his inspiration for the film: “I had a dream of Therese Giehse in my bed—not an erotic dream, just a dream where she was occupying my bed and refusing to move. I had a couple of other dreams and I started writing them down. Then I thought, maybe this is a chance to do something that I’ve always thought of—the equivalent of Surrealism’s automatic writing, but in film.” Dust off your Carl Jung and check out this rare chance to see Black Moon on celluloid and on the big screen. — CAROLINE SCHMIDT

Black Moon is playing January 15th at 7 PM at the Ibrahim Theater at International House: $8 General Admission and $6 for Students. French with English subtitles. Clicke HERE to buy tickets.

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