Fairy-tales often revolve around figures that could well be described as ‘serial killers’. Their preferred victims are children. In fact, the heroes of such folk tales could justifiably be called real monsters. This monstrous aspect of the legendary reaches its pinnacle of symbolic expression in “Bluebeard”. In the 1950s, this fairy-tale that first appeared in Charles Perrault’s “Contes de ma mère l’Oye” in 1697 and was retold in many subsequent versions, was a firm favourite of many a good little French girl. One such girl is Catherine; it gives her great pleasure to terrify the living daylights out of her elder sister Marie-Anne by reading her the infamous tale until the poor girl is so frightened she bursts into tears. Catherine derives just as much pleasure from taking part in re-enactments of the fairy-tale and eagerly slips into the role of Marie-Catherine, Bluebeard’s last wife. Although all of Bluebeard’s other wives are executed, she is the only one who escapes this fate, being the virgin princess about whose death Bluebeard prevaricates. His deliberation proves to be his downfall, and so it is the virginal Catherine who winds up in possession of the monster’s head – instead of the other way around … In her film, LA BARBE BLEUE, Catherine Breillat has created a variation of a popular figure based on the real life Gilles de Rais, a comrade-in-arms of Joan of Arc and infamous child murderer who once inspired another man of letters, Georges Bataille, to write his own version of the story.
by Catherine Breillat
with Dominique Thomas, Lola Creton, Daphné Baiwir