Black Moon

If only Louis Malle’s 1975 folly, Black Moon were a short film! The first twenty or thirty minutes are frightening and sublime. A young woman tears through wild and beautiful countryside in the attempt to escape a strange civil war between men and women. I began watching, and expected something like the political allegory of Peter Watkin’s Punishment Park (1971) to develop.

However, Malle is uninterested in the problems and the possibilities of something like feminist armed resistance. Like the bedridden old woman (Thérèse Giehse) later in the film who radios nonsense to some unseen master narrator, Malle relays the tone, suggestion and gesture of sexual identity instead of any cogent expression of it or any attempt at agency through it. Ultimately the film is a retrospective, Bathusian muddle, breathtakingly filmed by Ingmar Bergman’s cinematographer, Sven Nykvist. I recommend the extraordinary trailer.

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