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For the earlier film starring Fay Wray, see Black Moon (1934 film). For other uses, see Black Moon (disambiguation).
Black Moon
Directed by Louis Malle
Produced by Claude Nejar
Written by Louis Malle
Joyce Buñuel
Ghislain Uhry
Starring Cathryn Harrison
Joe Dallesandro
Alexandra Stewart
Music by Diego Masson
Cinematography Sven Nykvist
Editing by Suzanne Baron
Release date(s) 1975
Running time 100 min.
Country France / Germany
Language French

Black Moon, a surreal 1975 film directed by Louis Malle, was the winner of two French César Awards (for sound and cinematography). Shown at the 1975 New York Film Festival, it was distributed in the United States by 20th Century Fox.

The free-flowing narrative pivots around a confused teenager (Cathryn Harrison) who witnesses a war between the sexes and finds herself involved in numerous dream-like situations at a country estate. An underlying subtext offers a convoluted commentary on the women's movement of the 1970s.

Also in the cast are Joe Dallesandro, Therese Giehse and Alexandra Stewart. The film was shot in Malle's own 200-year-old manor house and Malle's surrounding 225-acre (0.91 km2) estate in the lush, wild Dordogne valley in Quercy, near Cahors.

Jeff Stafford wrote:

Walking a fine line between fantasy and reality with the two occasionally merging, Black Moon refuses to conform to a conventional storyline and a description of the fantastical events that take place could easily give one the wrong impression and misrepresent the cinematic experience Malle intended. The director was well aware of this, saying "I don't know how to describe Black Moon because it's a strange melange - if you want, it's a mythological fairy-tale taking place in the near future. There are several themes; one is the ultimate civil war...the war between men and women. I say the 'ultimate civil war,' because through the 1970s we'd been watching all this fighting between people of different religions and races and political beliefs. And this was, of course, the climax and great moment of women's liberation. So, we follow a young girl, in this civil war; she's trying to escape, and in the middle of the wood she finds a house which seems to be abandoned. When she enters the house, she obviously enters another world; she's in the presence of an old lady in bed, who speaks a strange language and converses with a huge rat on her bedside table. She goes from discovery to discovery - it's a sort of initiation." The film has obvious connections to the writings of Lewis Carroll as well as other films from the same period such as Robert Altman's Images (1972), which shares a similar fascination with unicorns, and Ingmar Bergman's bleak war allegory, Shame (1968). Malle freely admitted that Black Moon "conveys my admiration for and curiosity about Alice in Wonderland. And in the part I deliberately cast this English girl, Cathryn Harrison..."[1]

At the time of release, Black Moon received mixed reviews and vanished into obscurity. However, it found an appreciative audience in recent years with theatrical revivals and showings on the Turner Classic Movies channel.


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