Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

A film viewing and discussion club for Criterion Collection releases.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#1 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:43 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, August 19th.

Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

I encourage members to submit questions, either those designed to elicit discussion and point out interesting things to keep an eye on, or just something you want answered. This will be extremely helpful in getting discussion started. Starting is always the hardest part, all the more so if it's unguided. Questions can be submitted to me via PM.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#2 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:45 am

The winner of our recent Chabrol mini list is our Film Club discussion this round. Have at it!

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#3 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Aug 05, 2019 11:28 am

These were some of my thoughts from the Chabrol list project thread:
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:32 am
The butcher talks about logic early on, trying to latch onto it as if he was still in the army, and equating it with freedom. There is something ironic about humans who are driven primarily by emotions and physiological impulses pining for logic, yet this is something that we all do in attempts to combat our natures. The animalistic equating logic with freedom is also interesting, and completely driven by social context and culture- wanting to fit into the facade of logic embodied by ‘productive members of society’ by freeing oneself of the drives in the reptile brain. The school teacher, a ‘member of society’ is driven toward the animalistic, and equates freedom to pursuing these impulses with restraint, as she controls them logically with her ego functions, which are at levels that the butcher doesn’t possess yet he puts them on a pedestal of worship and envy. She was involved in a long emotional relationship that ended badly and remains guarded, wearing logic as armor and possessing the freedom he wants. Both of their traumas cause them to want logic, but this logic is out of his reach partially because he doesn’t actually want it, or isn’t willing, to fully submit his emotions. He is a romantic, and in a key scene in the woods they talk of romance from entirely different angles: he advocates for succumbing to desire (“never making love can make you insane”) while she responds with logic (“but doing it can make you crazy”). One could see this as an exaggerated portrait of the attraction between two people, romantically or socially, and the manners in which we emit logical, emotional, and physiological actions authentically and in response to others’ energies: because we want what they have or we want to show them what they want. It’s also an examination of the psychology of the individual as he or she attempts to exist and battle with oneself and within a microsystem of social norms and alternate philosophies, as both an animal and a logical person with executive functioning.

On a smaller scale, by the end we are left with possibly a weird kind of fetishistic relationship that’s not mutually understood or agreed upon, where one party is trying to connect with another desperately and impossibly, while the other - supposedly innocent party- becomes the unreadable fetishist who’s been in the driver's seat all along, without anyone knowing. Chabrol knows that the ‘animal’ tendencies are strong, often stronger, than the logical, and he vaguely presents us with the possibility that the people who can lean logically (cognitively vs. emotionally driven) may be the more frightening personality-type and human being between the two to walk the earth, with a psychology ironically less rational by overpowering natural processes of human behavior that have been around for thousands of years. Chabrol crafts a film that makes our own behavior seem alien... to us. Sweet beautiful bizarre irony.
I guess a discussion question I have is pretty vague: just what does everyone make of the relationship between the butcher and the teacher? Ebert's re-assessment/"great movies" review (https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/grea ... tcher-2003) posed some questions that indicate an oddly reciprocal relationship. Though I'm not sure I agree with him through all of his points, it's an interesting set of questions that opens up a lot to assess about relationship dynamics and what one seeks and needs in another, not necessarily romantically but psychologically. I do agree with his point that Chabrol is urging us to consider each person beyond simply the roles of 'villian' and 'victim' and perhaps even reverse them if we want to pigeonhole characters into roles to fit this story.

It's an incredibly complex film deliberately open for interpretation, but I'd love to hear others' analyses of the central dynamic or other elements that play into why the film is effective, or not, for you.

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#4 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:16 pm

Out of sheer laziness I am also just cut and pasting my previous remarks but also to briefly respond to the above point regarding the central relationship.
NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:23 am
It was touch and go whether La Cérémonie would retain top spot on my list but I will come down in favour of Le Boucher. A magnificently realised piece of work knitting a tragic love story into a thriller format. Much has been written here already attesting to its power so I will just add that it''s a remarkably beautifully shot and paced film with elegant tracking shots choreographing the burgeoning relationship between Popaul and Mademoiselle Hélène. The use of real locals also adds an enormously affectionate rendition of village life at ease with itself which makes the murders seem that much more savage and inhuman. Here is also perhaps another mirroring couple who's shared emotional detachment fuels the symbiosis of need which they are unable to realise.
I also think it is revealing that Popaul considers himself the subordinate character in their relationship by allying himself with her pupils and consistently addressing her as MADAMOISELLE Hélène with all its echoes of sexual unavailability and virginal purity which of course eventually becomes the haunting mantra at the end.
Last edited by NABOB OF NOWHERE on Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#5 Post by domino harvey » Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:20 pm

Let me cut and paste my write-up from the thread too
domino harvey wrote:

User avatar
NABOB OF NOWHERE
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Brandywine River

Re: Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#6 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:23 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:20 pm
Let me cut and paste my write-up from the thread too
domino harvey wrote:
Potentially the most erudite contribution to this thread.

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#7 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:03 pm

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:16 pm
I also think it is revealing that Popaul considers himself the subordinate character in their relationship by allying himself with her pupils and consistently addressing her as MADAMOISELLE Hélène with all its echoes of sexual unavailability and virginal purity which of course eventually becomes the haunting mantra at the end.
That's a great point and definitely evidence for his active role in their lopsided relationship. I do think that Chabol, like many modern therapists, sees relationships through a lens similar to IFS therapy, which has many facets but one theory it supports is that within every relationship, even the most unmanageable and unbalanced, a part of each person is being serviced by the aspects of that dynamic. I definitely think this to be true, and have consciously and subconsciously analyzed many of his films, and others, with this modality of psychology in mind. I am curious to the butcher's consciousness in their dynamic and feel like in the end the teacher's face vs. his in the close-ups Ebert analyzes, indicates that perhaps she was hyper-aware of the layers all along while he was not.
domino harvey wrote:
Mon Aug 05, 2019 12:20 pm
Let me cut and paste my write-up from the thread too
domino harvey wrote:
domino, you were who I was thinking of when I said
I'd love to hear others' analyses of the central dynamic or other elements that play into why the film is effective, or not, for you.
as I'm not sure I've encountered another detractor of this film, and am just as interested in why this film doesn't work for you as any analysis supporting why it does!

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#8 Post by domino harvey » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:16 pm

I’m not a detractor, I recall liking it, but not loving it! I’ll use this second-chance opportunity to revisit though

User avatar
therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#9 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:31 pm

Fair enough! Considering it didn’t make your top 20 I incorrectly assumed there was some deeper critical reasoning. I look forward to your thoughts!

User avatar
swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Le Boucher (Claude Chabrol, 1970)

#10 Post by swo17 » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:43 pm

Perhaps it was out of spite for the Pathfinder DVDs claim that (paraphrasing) "Chabrol fans agree it's not only his greatest film but one of the greatest of all films"

Post Reply