Belle De Jour

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


Spanish director Luis Bunuel once remarked. "A film is the story of a dream"; Belle de Jour is one of his best illustrations of that surrealist philosophy. The line between fantasy and reality, dreams and the minutiae of everyday life, and the impossible and the actual is so ambiguous in it that there exist any number of possible interpretations. Bunuel's choice of the enigmatic, aloof Catherine Deneuve to play the lead only deepens the mystery. Seemingly the story concerns a woman, Severine, whose sexual relationship with her husband, Pierre (Jean Sorel), is unsatisfying to both. To indulge her sexual fantasies, Séverine begins to spend afternoons working in a high-class brothel. Eventually her life there intrudes violently into her life at home with both disastrous and liberating consequences. What is certain is that no director has surpassed Buriuel in finding vivid and imaginative ways to externalize the inner world of desires and feelings. Critic Andrew Sarris says Belle de Jour "progresses inexorably upward, an ascent of assent, from the reverie of suppressed desires to the revelation of fulfilled fantasies." Thanks to producer Robert Hakim, this new print of one of Minuet's most visually striking films makes Belle de Jour available again after fifteen years and as beautiful as it was in 1967 when it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

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