in about 100 words or less
France 54m, silent B&W
Director: Germaine Dulac; Cast: Germaine Dermoz, Alexandre Arquillière, Jean d’Yd, Madeleine Guitty
The Smiling Madame Beudet is an early example of a feminist perspective in film. The story is about a woman who daydreams to escape the misery of her marriage to a man who she can no longer tolerate. Her brutish and seemingly uncaring husband often points an empty revolver at his head in response to her unenthusiastic responses, until one day she decides to load the weapon in a desperate attempt to rid herself of him. Her plan backfires when he decides to “jokingly” fire the loaded gun at her, narrowly missing her. Despite her malicious intent, he remains unaware of her situation and consoles her. Dulac’s use of symbolism and her experimental film techniques, including the use slow motion, create a film which is more invested in emotion and feeling than story and plot – unique in the silent film era (Klaus Ming February 2010).