Representations of Femininity in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s ‘Le Corbeau’

Image 1: Le Corbeau (1943)

The palpable sense of hysteria and panic that accompanied the establishment of the Vichy regime in Southern France is brilliantly captured in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1943 film Le Corbeau. One of the most controversial films of the era, Le Corbeau is a dark parable about the detrimental impact of paranoia on the human psyche. While nearly all of the characters of this film warrant individual study, it is Clouzot’s depiction of women that continues to be a source of debate among scholars today. Alan Williams feels that Le Corbeau shows female characters as “figures of both knowledge and redemption…[representing] an almost visceral grasping for light in the darkness and hope at a time of deepest despair.”1 In contrast, Evelyn Ehrlich feels that the film rejects this idealized view of women, arguing, “No other film made during the occupation was so fundamentally opposed to all values and principles of the Vichy regime.”2 To Ehrlich, Le Corbeau rejects the idea of the woman as a beacon of hope and a source of moral purity and instead shows the fraudulence and degeneracy behind this ideal. The film shows the duplicity of all human beings, and women are no exception. One of the best examples of Clouzot revealing the corrupt nature of seemingly virtuous people is seen in the character of Dr. Vorzet’s wife, Laura. Continue reading “Representations of Femininity in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s ‘Le Corbeau’” »