Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Bride Wore Black

Jeanne Moreau, who died yesterday at 89, was the greatest French actress of the twentieth century, and her greatness is based on only one role - the elusive, mysterious Catherine in the movie Jules and Jim.  Catherine, a woman no man could truly possess in the traditional sense, was, despite the movie's title, the real lead character of Fran├žois Truffaut's 1962 masterpiece, the woman who brought two friends closer together and ultimately tore them apart.  (How?  Well, I'd rather not spoil it for you.)
Of course, Mademoiselle Moreau's immense talent was not limited to just one movie.  She shone in several other pictures, impressing directors such as Orson Welles, and her second movie with Truffaut, The Bride Wore Black, demonstrated that she could convey suspense and dark humor at the same time.  
And she could sing.  "Le Tourbillon" ("The Whirlwind"), a song Moreau sang delicately in Jules and Jim, sounds inconsequential when you hear it, but you realize almost immediately that it's as essential to the movie as the choppy editing of its early scenes or the panoramic vistas of the Pyrenees Mountains; it tells us just what the movie is about, even if you think you already know.  As such a force of nature as an actress, Jeanne Moreau was and is a necessity in understanding French cinema at its peak, and her death leaves a big void in France's cinematic heritage.  RIP.  
And with that . . . Here's a clip Jeanne Moreau singing "Le Tourbillon" in Jules and Jim.

No comments: