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  • La Gueule Ouverte [1974] [Masters of Cinema] [DVD]
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La Gueule Ouverte [1974] [Masters of Cinema] [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: Philippe Leotard, Nathalie Baye, Monique Melinand
  • Directors: Maurice Pialat
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.75:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 20 April 2009
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,714 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Few filmmakers could rival Maurice Pialat's facility for transforming autobiographical material into the stuff of Art, and his third feature-film, La Gueule ouverte [The Mouth Agape], stands as one of the director's most intensely personal and most lacerating works. It is a film about illness: a condition of the body, and a name for the capacity to injure the ones who love us most. Monique Mélinand (a star of several of Raúl Ruíz's '90s works, and of Jacques Rivette's Jeanne la pucelle) portrays a woman in the late stages of terminal illness. She and her prone body become the locus around which gather her son Philippe (Truffaut-veteran Philippe Léotard), his wife Nathalie (French screen icon Nathalie Baye, in one of her earliest roles), and Monique's husband Roger (Hubert Deschamps, of Pialat's early short Janine, and Louis Malle's Zazie dans le métro). In short order, Monique recedes into the background of Philippe's and Roger's network of respective adulteries. But as the final, crushingly eloquent succession of shots starts to unreel, we are once more reminded that, in the work of Maurice Pialat, that which seems absent ultimately makes its presence felt with terrible force. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Maurice Pialat's astonishing feature-length masterwork La Gueule ouverte, accompanied by nine Pialat shorts three narrative works from the earliest part of the director's career, and the six poetic essay-documentaries he shot in Turkey in the early '60s which alone total over two hours in length. ----Special TWO-DISC Edition Including---- **Gorgeous new anamorphic transfer of the film in its original aspect ratio **New and improved English subtitle translations **Three early short-films by Maurice Pialat: Drôles de bobines [Funny Reels] - 1957, 17 minutes/ L'Ombre familière [The Familiar Shadow] - 1958, 24 minutes/ Janine - 1961, 17 minutes **The six short 1964 essay-documentaries made by Maurice Pialat in, and about, Turkey: Bosphore [Bosporus] - 14 minutes/ Byzance [Byzantium] - 12 minutes / La Corne d'or [The Golden Horn] - 12 minutes / Istanbul - 13 minutes/ Maître Galip [Master Galip] - 11 minutes / Pehlivan - 12 minutes **12-minute 2004 interview with Pialat's ex-wife and frequent collaborator, Micheline Pialat, conducted by former Cahiers du cinéma editor-in-chief, and current director of the Cinémathèque Française, Serge Toubiana **8-minute 2004 interview with actress Nathalie Baye **11 minutes of footage from the shoot of La Gueule ouverte, featuring commentary recorded in 2005 by actor Jean-François Balmer **16-minute 2004 interview with cinematographer Willy Kurant discussing his work with Pialat on the Turkish short-films **14-minute 1987 interview with Pialat about the Cinémathèque Française's role in his film education **10-minute excerpt from a 2002 masterclass with Pialat, discussing the film Maître Galip **Original theatrical trailer for La Gueule ouverte, along with trailers for the six other Maurice Pialat films released by The Masters of Cinema Series **36-page booklet containing a new essay by critic Adrian Martin, and newly translated interviews with Maurice Pialat

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
How do you continue while someone close to you is slowly dying. Plenty of films turn everyone into saints but what if you are not a saint and still caught up by your urges ?
Good to see something that tries to deal with things differently but some scenes that try to show the banality turn into torpor.
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This is an indisputably courageous film by an exceptional and courageous auteur. It is the story of a death - in all its dehumanisation, objectification,and ugliness - but it tells us nothing about death. There are no metaphysical reflections, no redemptive considerations, just the sheer banality of death, just death 'as it is', without comment. The death itself is the background: the foreground story is of the ex-husband and the son of the dying woman, who continue their lives of infidelity, promiscuity - and, yes, utter banality. There are no sympathetic characters here, no warmth of human feeling, and certainly no sentimentality. As other reviewers have commented, this makes it hard to watch, 'washed-out' colours and lightening, relentlessly non-communicative and full of very long sequences (nearly 5 minutes in one scene) where not a single word is uttered or single action undertaken, just the two men walking around the bed watching. It does give you 'truth', perhaps but is that alone enough in a work of art (as opposed to, say,a documentary)? Chekhov, for example, also gives us 'truth' and reflects the utter banality of life ('tragedy' would be too grand a word for it) but with Chekhov we see ourselves in the characters, we have some empathy with their flaws and their empty dreams, and that forces us to be moved and to reflect back on ourselves. Not so here. For me, entirely admirable and courageous, unique in its concept and execution, expertly made - but just too raw, too remote, to connect.
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By BigK90 on 8 Jan. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Not an easy film to sit through but maurice pialat yet again proves why he was one of frances best filmmakers. Not easy characters to relate to, but the film will stay in your memory.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dom Vlad Malic on 17 Aug. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A well crafted film, from a very accomplished director, but the story is quite depressing in the sense of there being no redemption, no light at the end of the tunnel. No-one likes over moralising propoganda - but this is at the other end of the scale. The father-wife, son-wife relationships have a similarity about them and whilst the acting is high quality, we are allowed only impressionistic insights into the minds of the main characters. It's a bit like watching a not-so-merry go round, with the men being selfish, randy, unfaithful, stereotypical frenchmen and the women beautiful and seemingly forgiving of their mens' transgressions. Of course this is reinterpreted by critics as Pialat's autobiographical essay into the male libido and how we hurt the ones we love the most and the unknowable source of evil.

Most of the women in the cast are jaw droppingly beautiful. As well as being beautiful, Monique Mélinand's death bed scenes are extremely visceral - all achieved by top-knotch acting, not special effects. She uses the occasion of her death-bed as an occasion to scold her husband's philandering and alcoholism, and some sense of his regret may be the chink of light in an otherwise dark story.

Some of the extras are good - a whole collection of tourism-type documentaries the director made in and about Turkey; and a very good early short, 'Nadine'. The interviews with the director and an actress fall a bit short but the one with Pialat's ex-wife and later professional collaborator, Micheline Pialat is excellent and gives some needed insight into the director's oevre, especially in this film. All told, well worth a watch and one which could inspire a look at his other, more well-know, work.
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