Article by Dr. Ingeborg Kraus – Karlsruhe, 14th February 2018
Edited by Ulrike Maier – Translation: Firdes Ceylan
The film „Belle de Jour“ is a masterpiece. It is not a sexist film. It is not a film about a woman who wants to live her sexual phantasies, or a film about a woman who wants to break out of a prudish society. No other film was misunderstood as much as “Belle de Jour”. Catherine Deneuve herself who represented this role perfectly, has never understood it. It is the role of her life: a woman who does not recognize sexual abuse.
Why is it that a beautiful woman from a good family lets herself being mistreated, humiliated and sexually abused? There are only two short movie scenes that solve the riddle. For a few seconds during minute 14 of the film you can see a girl, little Séverine, who is being kissed by an adult – his hand grabs under her dress. The second scene: Shortly before Séverine knocks at the door of the brothel for the first time she gets a flashback: she sees little Séverine who refuses the host. She feels guilty for what had been done to her. It is not the adult woman who goes to the brothel, it is the girl feeling guilty. It is striking how the adult self constantly apologizes. She is suffering from recurring nightmares in which she is being humiliated, in which dirt is being thrown at her, in which she is being insulted, whipped, raped. Adult Séverine is often absent in her life, like in a trance, unfocused. She drops things. She cannot develop a real closeness to her husband. Continue reading