This entire post is a giant SPOILER.
Here we go. I'm afraid my copy of the screenplay isn't with me so I don't have screen numbers - I'm just going to identify them roughly with the assumption that readers are familiar enough with the film to follow along. Comments in italics.
CB = Carole Bouquet - the French one
AM = Angelina Molina - the Spanish one
If I may be so bold, I'll add some comments.
1 - At the train station
CB She's looking for him with bruises on her face. She goes through a car, exits, eventually finds him - he pours water on her. She abandons her bags and boards the train.
This scene ends up being a de facto actress switch, since it's AM that plays out their finale on the train. Why CB here? Since it's the first scene we see her in, maybe to set up Conchita as the colder, more French side initially.
2 - At the judge's house
CB He first sees her as a maid, carrying a crystal vase with roses in it. She tells him she's Spanish but has lived in France for 10 years. She's indifferent to him, a bit rude for a maid. As she's pouring their wine with the same attitude, he notices her hands.
Natural place for CB since we've only seen her briefly and don't have reason to understand an actress switch yet. She's also got the coldness that works for the scene. Is the vase an understated reference to the vase Severine drops in Belle de Jour? Am I thinking too much? Note the relatively dead bouquet in the background, which is emphasized later at the start of the scene when he's talking to the judge about how to fix things.
3 - In Mateo's room at the judge's house[/b[
[b]AM Enters with the drink, an aphrodisiac. She's constantly smiling at him. She turns down the bed. Laughs when saying her father is dead. When she sits down next to him she immediately moves closer to him. Says she doesn't like working, says she likes dancing. He makes a move, she retreats, smiles/giggles alluringly and says she's going to bed, exits.
A perfect way to introduce AM. She's warm, flirtatious, and of course the subtle sexual elements (turning down the bed, the aphrodisiac, his advances) set her up initially as the more earthy, sexier one. So far, she's more Spanish, while CB is obviously more French. CB never talks about dancing - only AM does.
[Interlude - he learns that she left without getting paid.]
4 - At the cafe after he's been robbed
CB She's seen approaching with the hoodlums. She sits down next to him, returns the money. She's smiling. He gives her the money back. She tells him where she lives. She drops the hankie, breaks off a branch as she departs. He picks up the hankie and smells it deeply.
Why CB? She's hanging out with muggers - not exactly "conformist" behavior. But she also gave back the money, so we can go back and forth about it. I don't see an easy explanation, other than that she looks good next to the young men she's with - she fits with them, stylistically. It might also be a strike against her strict "Frenchness" since up to this point she's been "the French one."
The breaking of the branch reminded me immediately of Nazarin breaking off the branch after his naivete caused the workers to fight and a shooting. This observation may be totally spurious, but I doubt that CB picking the branch was accidental. Though here, her breaking the branch has a distinctly different meaning - a satisfaction, and, in the words of Dave Chappelle, "Gotcha, bitch!"
5 - He visits her apartment for the first time
CB She seems happy to see him. She immediately goes to the mirror and brushes her hair. Touches his chest when thanking him for the money (can someone respond to whether this is normal French etiquette?). She smiles playfully, a touch seductively across the table at him while his mother talks about her dead father. When he puts the money on the table, she doesn't smile - instead, she puts her little finger into her mouth and stares at the money. Mom exits. They go to the couch, where she leans back (clearly a boob move). He puts his hand on her leg, she puts her hand on his. He gets the box for her, opens it, more hand rubbing. She takes out a candy and puts it in his mouth, giving him the opportunity to suck on her fingers.
A place where AM would have worked just as well. CB is the warm, sensual one here - this derails any argument that CB is the "cold French one." She's clearly flirting with him. Of course, she may be flirting in a peculiarly French way, but why that matters here for purposes of our analysis, I'm not sure.
6 - He visits her apartment for a second time
AM She's dancing in a Spanish dress when he comes in. He puts his hand on her chest. She's happy to see him. She goes to the "bathroom" and is seen in her underwear giving herself a sponge bath. He gives her a purse which she says she'll give to her mother. He goes to her and starts running his hands across her body. She's not all that pleased. She does the song/game thing with him, which she explains on the couch was about lovers. She sits on his lap and they kiss until he starts running his hand up her leg. “I kissed you to thank you, and because I like you. I know what you’re after. You amuse me, that’s all. What I want is quite different. “ “Every day I ask myself, what can I do for her? And I’all I can think of, is this.” His pulling out the money is one of the greatest moments in Bunuel's cinema. She immediately reacts with indifference. The mother enters, gives a speech: “Sin has never spent the night here. Our souls are straighter than St. John’s finger.” She tells him she's a virgin with that oh-so-seductive sweetness.
Clearly a place for AM. She's the one who can dance, so she gets the scene. She's also more naturally warm and seductive, though I don't think CB is by any means cold. AM may also be better able to project the innocence needed to sell the virgin line.
[Interlude: He tries to buy off her mother. She doesn't show at his place, instead sending the hoodlum. He goes to her place and finds out that she's moved.]
7 - At the restaurant/bar
CB Working at the coat counter. She’s not happy to see him. She quits – now she’s more friendly but is still upset about the mother-buying. “I was about to give myself to you.” She’s unsure. He leads her by the arm to a seat. “I don’t want your money.” They go outside. Now she’s suddenly friendly again. Offers to be his lover. “Day after tomorrow." Now she takes his arm.
CB plays the smart, willful woman well. It makes sense to put her in this scene where she has to play the independent, strong spirit without the need for seduction. The switch of control here is interesting. He leads her around by the arm in a slightly hostile way, until she consents to being his lover, at which point she takes his arm.
8(a) - At Mateo's country home
AM She’s deliriously happy once they’re alone. Then she notices the picture of his ex wife. Refuses to sleep in the room. He orders the servant to make up the other room. “I do exactly as I please, that’s how it is. My mother doesn’t matter.” She approaches him, calls him “Mi amor.” Kisses him. She becomes faint. “I love you but I almost passed out.” “After you, I’ll never love anyone else. If you leave me I’m as good as dead.” Says she lacks the strength despite her promise to him.
They switch rooms. She’s smiling again. Playfully refuses to kiss him. Goes to change in the bathroom. Seen in the bathroom putting on her nightgown (we see her breast) taking out the chastity belt.
Another good part for AM's warmth, playfulness, innocence. At the same time, she's rejecting her mother and her influence. The "mi amor" line simply couldn't be delivered by CB, since the Spanishness of the Conchita character is entirely represented by AM.
8(b) - At Mateo's country home (cont.)
CB She comes out of the bathroom and suddenly is CB. She asks him to close the blinds. She's seen in the mirror with the cross in the background. She approaches the mirror and opens the top of her nightgown. He goes up to her and grabs her breasts like a pig. She's cold. “No, later. I’m not in the mood right now.” He gets mad. “I don’t owe you a thing.” He threatens her. “I won’t be your lover tonight. Not tonight, not tomorrow.” He grabs her, threatens to take off her nightgown. She tells him to put out the candles. He does. We next see her under the covers. He gets under the covers. “Don’t cry victory too fast.” He discovers the chastity belt.
[Interlude on the train – they send out the kids]
He gives up, is crying. She hugs him tells him she needs time.
Here is where the coldness theory comes from for CB part. I think it shows more her disgust for him. Is she manipulating him? Probably - but he's the sucker. Her presence in this scene may have simply come down to which actress looked better in the chastity belt, lying on the bed, struggling with Mateo. I have a feeling CB looked much better, simply because she's much slighter.
9 - Back at the restaurant/cafe
CB She enters and is offered champagne by the boss of the place.
Brief scene of no importance for our purpose. I suspect this was shot on the same day as the previous scene in the same location and the choice of actress was a matter of economics and efficiency rather than style.
10 - At the river
AM She asks for a 16mm. They talk about why he wants sex. She's totally rational about it.
This scene could just have easily been played by CB. Conchita is cold, accusing here.
11(a) – At his house
CB They’re getting ready for bed, she’s in her nightgown. She goes into the bathroom, washes out her mouth, smiles at herself in the mirror. Gets serious, returns to bedroom. Makes him promise that it’s like any other night. Gets into bed. “If I gave you want you want you’d stop loving me.” He accuses her of staying with him for the money. “I hate young people, they’re idiots.” She gets on top of him. He’s going crazy with lust. He suggests she can please him in other ways. She’s indignant. Says she’ll come haunt him if he takes another woman. Shooting in the street. He doesn’t care – grabs her. She insists on leaving. He grabs her. She gets mad, then changes her mind, “Give me time to get used to you.” He tells her to get out.
Again, I think this is a scene where CB simply looks better than AM would look. It also puts some distance between the CB element of the character and the AM element that features in the final violent showdown. CB is better able to play the unsubmissive, and she’s also got a nice pair.
11(b) – At his house (cont.)
AM We see her escorting the hoodlum into her room and breaking a vase (more Belle de Jour?). She says she’s drying herself, then tells her boyfriend to hide. She hides his stuff. When she opens the door she’s smiling. She’s indignant. “He’s slept her the last three nights.” She’s mad. He kicks them both out. “I’ll never come back.”
Another scene which could be played by either actress, though the hoodlum’s relationship is stronger with AM’s side of the character. Her anger is of a different variety from CB’s. I can’t get enough of the shot of him looking through the window over the door.
12 – At her apartment
CB The police inspectors come to tell her and her mother that they have to leave France. She’s making the bed (note the cross over he bed again).
Trivial scene for our purposes. This is the one time we see them in their new apartment. CB’s side is the only one we see with reference to crosses throughout the film.
13 – On a street in Seville, at night
AM She sees him through the window as a funeral procession goes by. She’s very happy to see him. “How I’ve missed you! I thought you didn’t love me anymore!” “Mi amor! Mi alma!” “All I can give you now is this.” She lets him touch and smell her hair.
Why AM? They’re in Spain. She may also have better, fuller hair for the scene.
14 – At the club
AM She sits down with him, is very happy to see him. They hold hands, she caresses his hand. “I’m not the same, you’ll see.” She leaves to go upstairs. He’s told that she thinks he’s old. He goes upstairs where he sees her dancing naked. She’s pissed. “You’re not my father, and you’re not my lover.” She expresses her devotion to herself. She suddenly switches attitude – you’re handsome, kind, you have nice eyes. “I’m the one who loves you. Your eyes drive me crazy. You’re all that makes me happy.” She sits on his lap and hugs him. She lays out what she wants. “All I can do is love you madly and stay in tact for you.” She kisses him.
AM is the one who can dance, so she gets the part. It would be absurd to put CB in these scenes.
15 – At the house he bought for her
CB She comes out in a golden robe. No kiss. He hands her the key. “I’m afraid of no one, not even you, Mateo.” He gives her the deed – she kisses him – a peck. “It’s all I wanted, nothing can come between us.” He advances again. “Don’t hold your breath – tomorrow night, at midnight.”
Coldness theory certainly works here. She’s got what she wants. See Chappelle line above.
16 – At the house he bought for her, night
AM He arrives, she makes him kiss her foot, won’t let her in, tells him to go away, laughs. “I’m free for the rest of my life! I can’t stand you! You make me sick. I try to run away and you catch up.” She brings out her real man and gets naked with him on the floor.
He leaves and goes outside. He looks down the alleyway but can’t continue. Goes back in, where he sees the loves finish and go upstairs
Conchita needs to find a man with more stamina. AM works better here for her physical traits. Again, it’s not a matter of conformity but rather a question of looks. It’s easier to believe AM in the part here than CB. I consider Mateo standing in the alleyway to be one of the great Freudian moments in all of Bunuel’s cinema – looking down the alleyway, unable to continue, with the traffic stop at the end of the alley . . . a perfectly executed vaginal symbol, and Mateo is utterly impotent.
17 – At his rented home in Seville
CB She shows up in a damn nice dress, looking hot. “I came to see if you were dead.” She’s icy.
AM Abrupt actress change as they go inside. He beats her up. She claims it was all a charade. “He doesn’t even like women!” “Now I know you love me. I’m still a virgin.” The blood flowing from her nose. She tries to give him the key to he house. He takes it, throws it back at her, leaves.
This scene is extraordinary. We can’t condone what he’s doing, but we’re also seeing the film from his perspective and we can’t help but understand why he’s doing it. The blood flowing from her nose is utterly suggestive. It’s very hard to see CB pulling off this scene as well as AM. Since AM played the sex scene in front of Mateo, it also serves for continuity purposes.
18 – On the train
AM She finds him, pours water on him. He chases after her, corners her in a bathroom. She sticks her tongue out at him. After apparently superfluous scenes at the station (see next post), we see the couple walking to a taxi.
No reason to switch actresses. In fact, from an efficiency standpoint, it would have been more sensible to have CB play the role since she was in all the other train parts. The only explanation (other than spontaneous choice) is continuity, since we’ve just seen the fight between Mateo and AM.
19 – Final scene [/b[
[b]CB They are together, she is smiling. They look happy. She looks on with subtle disgust/horror while he talks with a certain fascination while looking with her at a woman mending a blood-stained nightgown.
AM Sudden actress transition. She walks away, he grabs her arm, she violently pulls it away from him. Explosion. The end.
Last edited by bunuelian on Wed Jun 08, 2005 1:49 am, edited 1 time in total.