Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Belle de Jour (1967)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Belle de Jour (1967, Fr./It.) (aka Beauty of the Day)

In Luis Bunuel's first color film (and most commercially-successful film), a surrealistic drama about a daytime brothel prostitute, but without nudity or on-screen sex:

  • the major masochistic erotic fantasy-dream sequence of masochistic Severine Serizy (Catherine Deneuve) in the opening sequence (with the off-screen dreamy sounds of her turn-ons: meowing of cats and the jingling of carriage bells); she was driven in an open carriage (landau) through the woods of an estate where her respectful society surgeon-doctor husband Dr. Pierre Serizy (Jean Sorel) ordered her dragged from the coach, and instructed the coachmen to gag her and tie her hands/arms to a nearby tree above her; there, he pulled down her mouth gag and threatened: "If you scream, I'll kill you"; the back of her dress (and bra) were torn off and her bare back was whipped (pleasurably) by two coachmen, as she screamed out: "I beg of you, don't let the cats loose!" afterwards, Pierre also told one of the whipping coachman (Michel Charrel) before a presumed scene of rape: "That's enough. She's all yours ...Go ahead"
Erotic, Masochistic Dream: The Coach Fantasy
  • the subsequent scene cut back to Severine's bedroom where she was lying in bed and her PJ'd husband Pierre (of one year) was in the bathroom, reflected in a mirror, who asked: "Severine, what are you thinking about? Tell me"; she answered: "About you, about us" - and mentioned that she had the coach fantasy again - theirs was an unconsummated, chaste and frigid relationship - the reason she engaged in elaborate S&M fantasies; they kissed before retiring in separate single beds, and did not consummate their love
  • the brief flashbacks to Severine's early life as a young girl, when she was groped by a blue-collar worker, and she rejected a Communion wafer during a Catholic (guilt-inducing) service
  • the further elucidation of the character of bored, repressed, blonde upper-class Parisian newlywed housewife Sévérine Serizy who was hired by sophisticated brothel Madame Anais (Genevieve Page) as a part-time afternoon prostitute in a chic, high-class brothel with two other girls: Mathilde (Maria Latour) and Charlotte (Françoise Fabian); Anais told her: "My girls have to be polite and very cheerful. You have to enjoy your work" - she was given a "very simple and very cute" and "easy to remember" name: "Belle de Jour" ("since you only come in the afternoons")
  • Severine soon experienced a variety of strange clients, including her first one Monsieur Adolphe (Francis Blanche), who thought she looked sad and was immediately put off by her (due to her newness in the job), but then brought her into the bedroom and stripped her down, stating: "It seems you're new at this. Listen to me. I have a nose for these things. You don't fool me. But if it's true, you shouldn't be ashamed. Don't tell me that at your age, you're still a virgin. We'll find out soon. Well, do I scare you? You don't like my face? You better get used to it, my little friend"; when she tried to flee the room, Adolphe slapped her face and chastised her: "Who do you think you are, you little slut?! You turn me on and then you take off. Games are fun for awhile, but enough is enough!"
  • the S&M sequence in which Severine in an immaculate white gown was tied up in a barnyard setting while Pierre and older family friend Henri Husson (Michel Piccoli) pelted her with thick black mud (or cow dung?) and called her horrific names: "Little Slut," "Bitch," "Old Whore," "Maggot," "Pig," "Scum," "Garbage," "Tramp," and "Slut"; just before the mud-slinging, Husson had pointed out his two prized bulls: Remorse and Expiation
  • the film's enigmatic object - the possession of a mysterious box by strange East Asian client (Iska Khan)
Client With Mysterious Box
Severine With Pallas:
"How would you know, Pallas?"
  • the subsequent scene of Severine with fearful but sympathetic brothel maid Pallas (Marguerite Muni) after she had serviced the client who had frightened her: ("That man would frighten me, too. It must be painful sometimes"); as she partially sat up on the bed, Severine replied: "How would you know, Pallas?"
  • the film's most graphic set-piece: while seated alone at an outdoor cafe table, a 19th century costumed duke-nobleman (Georges Marchal) approached Severine from a horse-drawn carriage, and brought her to his manor-chateau in the woods; as part of his sexual fetish, she was required to impersonate his dead daughter ("Worms are eating you up. And the smell of dead flowers fills the room"), by lying in a coffin wearing a transparent black nightgown over her nude body, while he placed lilies on her chest and masturbated nearby; they were interrupted by the butler who asked: "Shall I bring in the cats?"; the perturbed duke shouted back: "To Hell with you and your cats!"; afterwards, she was dismissed into the rain outdoors
  • another carriage-woods masochistic fantasy, in which Severine was bound to a tree and shot in the left temple (after an imagined duel between Husson and Pierre); Pierre approached and kissed her
  • the sequence of her brutal and possessive john - thuggish, self-indulgent gangster Marcel (Pierre Clémenti) with metal teeth, a weaponized walking stick, and shiny leather boots and cape-overcoat, who jealously shot her husband Pierre three times on the Parisian street outside Severine's apartment (she was awakened from a nap on the couch) - Marcel regarded Pierre as an "obstacle" to his relationship with Severine; shortly later, Marcel was shot and killed by pursuing police
Wish-Fulfillment Fantasy? - Husband Pierre in Wheelchair
Requesting to Be Taken in Carriage to the Mountains
  • the concluding ambiguous sequence (another hallucinated fantasy or wish-fulfillment in Severine's unstable mind); Pierre was comatose in a wheelchair, but suddenly sat up, and asked: "What are you thinking about?" (she answered: "About you"); he arose from his wheelchair, walked to the other side of the room, and poured himself a drink - the ubiquitous off-screen sounds of meowing cats and jingling bells were heard; when he suggested going to the mountains with her, she asked if he heard the bells and went to the window, where she watched from the balcony as the carriage (with two coachmen) approached

Severine's Husband: "What are you thinking about?"

Flashbacks to Severine's Youth

Hired by Brothel Madame Anais, and Named "Belle de Jour"

Abusive Client Adolphe: "Games are fun for awhile, but enough is enough!"

Fantasy: Barnyard Mud-Slinging

Severine With Duke-Nobleman - Impersonating His Dead Daughter in Coffin

Another Carriage-Woods Fantasy


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