Bluebeard: Catherine Breillat’s Version of Fairytale

Based on Charles Perrault’s grisly fairytale, Catherine Breillat’s bloody, perversely chaste adaptation of Bluebeard is set in motion when two young sisters come across the folk story in a book in the attic.

Fascinated, they begin to read the tale of Marie-Catherine (Lola Créton), a poor young woman who sets her cap for a frightening, wealthy recluse (Dominique Thomas)—despite rumors he’s killed his previous wives. As the signs of his true nature grow more ominous, Marie-Catherine must employ all her cunning to outwit her husband and escape the most unpleasant of fates.

“When I was little, I loved Bluebeard; however many times I read it, I was terrified each time,” remembers Breillat. “The fact that I knew the story perfectly didn’t change anything, it even increased the excitement through the pleasure of fear by anticipation. But above all, the tale of Bluebeard turned out to be the benchmark by which I measured my supremacy over my sister… I used to read Bluebeard out loud to her, terrified in advance myself but invigorated by the fact that I knew (and hoped) that she, the older one, would break down and beg me, in tears, to stop. And that invariably gave me the courage to resist beyond my own strength; and prolong the breathless terror to the very end.”

One of the most provocative French directors working today, Catherine Breillat often explores issues of sexuality, gender conflict and sibling rivalry in her work.  She began her film career after studying acting at Yves Furet Acting Studio in Paris. Breillat is also a successful novelist, who has adapted several of her own books into films. Among her films are The Last Mistress (2006), Anatomy of Hell (2003), Sex is Comedy (2002), Fat Girl (2000) and Romance (1999).