Trust me, I'm a director: sex, sadomasochism and institutionalization in Luis Buñuel's Belle de Jour (1967)purchase PDF
Authors: Stephen Forcer
Buñuel, psychoanalysis, Belle de Jour, sadism, masochism, Catholicism
This article offers a psychoanalytic rereading of a classic piece of European cinema, itself a cornerstone in the œuvre of a major European director. Argumentation starts from the idea that Buñuel's playful laying of interpretative red herrings is valuable as a cultural gesture, but dangerous as a platform for satisfying film criticism. Seeking to challenge the descriptive auteurism that often characterizes studies of both Buñuel and Belle de Jour, the proposition here is that critically informed textual analysis reveals that Belle's psycho-sexuality is more complex than existing studies suggest. In particular, discussion works towards answering a previously unasked question about Belle: traditionally, she is held to embody all the classic signs of masochism - and yet, in its conceptual origin, a masochist is also a sadist, so what does it mean to consider the representation and actions of Belle within the context of sadism? By responding to this question via the film's mise-en-scène - which is rich but often neglected by critics - the article reveals a new relationship between Belle, her fantasies and a set of male-orchestrated institutions. In turn, the piece is able to shed new light on the film's notoriously enigmatic ending.