Woman in Chains
December 17, 2011
Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. With Laurent Terzieff,
Elisabeth Wiener, Bernard Fresson
France 1968, 35mm, color, 106 min. French with English subtitles
Clouzot's unsettling last film offers a variation of his recurrent grand theme of torturous love, here in the form of a dangerous love triangle set in the Sixties Paris art world. The story of a chic gallerist whose discerning taste only hints at the strange sexual obsessions that eventually lure a wide-eyed up-and-coming artist into his kinky den, La Prisonnière returns to Clouzot's idea of corrupt business as the driving metaphor for the 20th century, with civilization doomed by the unfair "wages,” be they pecuniary or psychosexual, that sustain yet ultimately destroy it. Clouzot's only full-length feature in color, La Prisonnière concludes with a hypnotic barrage of psychedelic Op-Art abstraction directly borrowed from his ill-fated and abandoned feature, L'Enfer.