Friday, November 23, 2007

The Grande Bouffe

La grande bouffe; Satire/ Grotesque, France/ Italy, 1973; D: Marco Ferreri, S: Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret, Marcello Mastroianni, Ugo Tognazzi, Andréa Ferréol, Solange Blondea, Florence Giorgetti

Cook Ugo, judge Philippe, pilot Marcello and TV editor Michel take a vacation from their jobs and leave for an isolated mansion. There they decide to eat until death. The hire trucks full of food and store it in the giant kitchen. There the cakes, cookies, buns, chicken and other delicatessen for weeks. Marcello occasionally hires a few prostitutes to shorten their time while teacher Andrea voluntarily joins them and even falls in love with Philippe. With time, one by one die from getting overstuffed, except for Andrea who survives.

Radical and creative 1970's created a bunch of interesting cult (anti)movies, among which is definitely the grotesque parable "The Grande Bouffe" that was even nominated for a Golden Palm in Cannes. Bizarrely symbolic story in "Bouffe" functions in the same way as Orwell's allegory "Animal Farm", except for drawing a different point, of course, the one about the immoderateness and collapse of consumer society (often deliberately disgusting, like in the scene where after the gormandize the character of Ugo throws up while Michel uncontrollably farts due to bad indigestion). In the world of "Bouffe" there lies a portrait of deteriorating spiritual values and as a result of that the 4 main protagonists try to fill the emptiness of their lives by turning to the material values (food) with an overkill, and in the end they die as in an classic tragedy. There are a lot of hidden messages in the film (a harsh critique of the Bourgeoisie? Everything that's excessive is dangerous?) which are left to interpretation (it's interesting to note that all actors play roles which all share their first name), but director Marco Ferreri still fell into the trap that his achievement seems one sided and amorph: "Bouffe" is an interesting film that shows how shock and quality can go hand in hand, but as with Pasolini's similar doomsday film "Salo", it somehow lacks poetry, a skillfuler point and is hard to digest.


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