Louis Malle meets Lewis Carroll in this bizarre and bewitching trip down the rabbit hole. After skirting the horrors of an unidentified war being waged in an anonymous countryside, a beautiful young woman (Cathryn Harrison) takes refuge in a remote farmhouse, where she becomes embroiled in the surreal domestic odyssey of a mysterious family. Evocatively shot by cinematographer Sven Nykvist, Black Moon is a Freudian tale of adolescent sexuality set in a postapocalyptic world of shifting identities and talking animals. It is one of Malle’s most experimental films and a cinematic daydream like no other. –The Criterion Collection
Louis Malle (born October 30, 1932, Thumeries, France—died November 23, 1995, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.) French motion-picture director whose eclectic films were noted for their emotional realism and stylistic simplicity.
Malle’s wealthy family resisted his early interest in film but allowed him to enter the Institute of Advanced Cinematographic Studies in Paris in 1950. After studying at the institute, he worked as an assistant to filmmaker Robert Bresson and codirected the documentary Le Monde du silence (1956; The Silent World) with underwater explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Malle’s first feature film, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (1957; Frantic), was a psychological thriller. His second, Les Amants (1958; The Lovers), was a commercial success and established Malle and its star, Jeanne Moreau, in the film industry. The film’s lyrical love scenes, tracked with exquisite timing, exhibit Malle’s typically bold and uninhibited treatment of sensual themes. Social alienation… read more
Hard to believe this work when unrecognized for so long and that it's initial reaction was that the film didn't entirely work and maybe in the 70's I could understand but today the surrealism and childlike playfulness feels way more fluid than the headiness you get with a David Lynch knockoff. Malle's use of animal imagery is particularly skillful. "Dreamlike" is thrown around a lot but this film nails it down.
Cathryn Harrison is on point as the ephebophiliac pin-up protagonist caught between "Little Joe" and a unicorn in this Louis Malle allegory/sexual awakening concoction. Here, the line between fantastic and ludicrous becomes blurred at times, but the sensual tension (which is the film's common language), is consistent thanks in part to Sven Nykvist's color lighting as well as Cathryn Harrison's energetic performance.