932. Et Dieu… créa la femme / …And God Created Woman (1956, Roger Vadim)

Screened Sunday July 15 2007 on Criterion DVD in Weehawken NJ

TSPDT rank #835 IMDb

Watch video essay

Roger Vadim’s attempt to leverage the assets of Brigitte Bardot, his 22-year old wife (they had married once she turned 18) was a runaway success that made Bardot into an international sex symbol. Some critics dismiss Vadim as a hack who capitalized on his wife’s looks to catapult his career, but given that it was his first film and her seventeenth, let’s just say that the benefits were mutual. Vadim’s framings of Bardot are cheeky in every sense, not simply exploitive of her figure but a joyous, consensual depiction of sexuality as an act of personal expression.

Bardot, presented from the first scene as an Eve-like temptress, bounces between a middle-aged tycoon (Curt Jurgens), a strong but mysogynistic shipyard worker (Christian Marquand) whom she desires most, and his feeble younger brother (Jean-Louis Trintignant) whom she marries partly to spite the older sibling. Each has their allure but also present a vague threat in defining her, respectively, as another possession in a capitalist’s playpen, a passionate one-night stand, or a dutiful wife; in every instance an objectified female.

Her scattershot response is to act badly towards her husband’s family, engage in various self-endangering activities, and mambo herself into a frenzy in a climactic dance sequence that plays on her facial expressions like a gang rape. Not quite the unequivocal feminist statement that inspired a generation of young actresses to follow her to undress and shag onscreen uninhibitedly, but it’s unwieldiness is part of what makes it compelling even today.

Coincidentally, the script shares several elements with another film that came out the same year, Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind. Both have at their center wild young women characters who, jilted by unrequited love, use tantrums, lasciviousness and wild mambo dancing to disrupt the equilibrium of the social network depicted in each film. (It so happens that both films locate industrial capitalism as a locus of power in which women are largely marginalized). While Vadim’s film may not equal Sirk’s stylistic tour de force, it benefits from focusing on Bardot with just the right mix of fetishized fixation and sympathetic irreverence.

Wanna go deeper?

In his liner notes for the Criterion DVD, cheeky Chuck Stevens ponders the degree of credit attributable to Roger Vadim for making the film – and Brigitte Bardot – an indelible monument to 50s European culture:

“Roger Vadim is ‘with it’,” wrote Jean-Luc Godard, then still a critic, in 1957. And in Vadim’s films, Godard claimed to have found—as he had in the collaborations between Frank Tashlin and Jayne Mansfield—a truly modern cinema. Vadim, who later claimed to have coined the term “discotheque,” would surely have agreed. “I felt like the young Bonaparte at the beginning of his Italian campaign,” Vadim claimed, some thirty years later, of his first day on the set, “I felt certain of victory.” Those words come from Vadim’s 1987 little-black-book-like memoir, Bardot Deneuve Fonda, a chronicle of the conquests, onscreen and off, of the director whose films, as the years went by, sank ever lower into misanthropic depths. Let his epitaph remain Pretty Maids All in a Row, in which a womanizer’s sexual victories are indistinguishable from his passion for serial killing. If God created woman, could Vadim have created Bardot? We know only this: both God and Vadim are dead, while Bardot—whose taunting nakedness seemed suddenly, and perhaps only coincidentally, to attain a kind of beatification under Vadim’s guiding paw—lives on.

The Film Reference.com entry on the film by John Baxter offers this emblematic quote by Jeanne Moreau: “Brigitte was the real modern revolutionary character for women. And Vadim, as a man and a lover and a director, felt that. What was true in the New Wave is that suddenly what was important was vitality, eroticism, energy, love and passion. One has to remember it was Vadim who started everything, with Bardot.”

From a contemporary perspective, Alan Vannemann, in his survey of three Bardot films on DVD, has less kind words to assess Bardot’s performance in …And God Created Woman:

The film skids downhill because Vadim doesn’t want to make Brigitte “bad,” but he does want her to be “untamable” — “the kind of woman who drives men mad!” Neither the script nor Brigitte seems to be up to the task of conveying this ponderous cliché. Brigitte has a brief affair with her brother-in-law. Ashamed, she flounces into a local boîte and tosses off six brandies. Then she heads downstairs to the dance floor, drawn by the tropic beat of the “Whiskey Café” boys, right off the boat from Martinique. What follows is supposed to be a sizzling climax but instead proves to be an awkward meltdown. Bardot took dancing lessons as a child, but she should have taken a few more, because her sense of rhythm puts her somewhere between Richard Nixon and G. Gordon Liddy.12 When she tosses her hair in her face in a vain attempt to look like a “wild animal,” it’s hard not to look away.

Leave it to Gary Tooze on DVD Beaver to observe that the the image quality on the Criterion DVD dates to “before Criterion went soft-palette with many of their color DVDs. It looks quite vibrant, bordering on (but not crossing) saturation levels. It has sharpness, film grain , decent contrast with a shade of blue in the image. Looks fabulous. ”

More Images:

Author: alsolikelife

This is my pet project

  • Pingback: Shooting Down Pictures » Blog Archive » Video Essay for 932. Et dieu… crea la femme / …And God Created Woman (1956, Roger Vadim)()

  • Pingback: Shooting Down Pictures » Blog Archive » Brigitte Bardot better than Spencer Tracy? or Actors without a single film in the TSPDT 1000()

  • http://philosopherouge.wordpress.com/ Justine

    Those screenshots make the film look delicious. I’ve heard about this one for awhile, but haven’t had an urge to see it until now.

  • alsolikelife

    Judging from your site it’s right up your alley. Hope you enjoy it!

  • http://shooting.alsolikelife.com alsolikelife

    Check out fellow Eph alum Matthew Dessem’s post on this film in his impressive project blog The Criterion Contraption: http://criterioncollection.blogspot.com/2007/10/77-and-god-created-woman.html#comments

  • http://leadpipeposters.com/ Lead Pipe Posters

    Get an Original Brigitte Bardot on her Harley poster at Lead Pipe Posters!
    This huge, classic poster of actress and sex idol Brigitte Bardot was produced in 1967
    by the famous poster company Berkeley Bonaparte and shot by Herman Scoop.
    It was printed on good quality, heavy poster stock and is in mint to near mint condition. Price
    Find Original Sixties and Seventies Rock Concert, Psychedelic Art, Blacklight, Political & Music Posters here!

  • Pingback: Sunday… ;) « Marisacat()

  • http://www.emo-site.com/emo-boys.htm emo boy

    Has read this article on your site and has decided to look this film.
    Before it never saw. A remarkable film. Game of actors besides was pleasant.

  • http://www.myinflatableboat.net inflatable boat

    wow nice shots,, the lady is so pretty and so the boat in the pics LOL!!!!!!!! a i read this article i tried to search the film,,, it is pretty awesome good actors and actress

  • http://www.on-freeannualcreditreport.com/%20 freeannualcreditreport

    Cool pics are they..These kind of pictures and screen shots makes the film more beatiful..thnks for sharing

  • http://.com/medicalrecordstorage/ BOAT STORAGE

    the blue is kinda unique i i own that boat i wont just put it i a corner i will store it to a much safer place where i can condition it

  • http://www.boat4u.com.au Buy Boats Online

    You just have to love directors who put their beautiful wives into films. That way we can enjoy what they do :p

  • http://www.sohbethiphop.com/ dans

    My boyfriend would like to have such a great success every day we were dancing

  • tinalein90

    Thanks u, nice post.

    HD Camcorder
    Forex Markt

  • http://www.mustuniversity.com/Schools-Majors/Business-and-Management/Human-Resource-Management.html hr degree

    Those screenshots make the film look delicious. I've heard about this one for awhile, but haven't had an urge to see it until now.

  • bestcbstore

    Autopilot, Dual-Tested Forex Robot
    Turns $10,000 Into $59,494 With
    7 Easy Click & Profit Trades…

  • http://sweethomeimprove.com Sweet_Home_Improvement

    Great post, really help me alot. Thanks.


  • Christ7208

    the old fashion of picture is very beautiful. I really like it.

  • http://providesloans.com Loan_Services

    Hey, great post, very well written. You should blog more about this. I’ll definitely be subscribing.

    Loan Advice
    good-jobs.org, airprints.com

  • http://www.on-freeannualcreditreport.com/ freeannualcreditreport

    I like the hair style on the old movies. The color and setting is very attractive.
    free credit report and annual credit report

  • http://www.all-auto.ro/auto-second-hand vanzari auto

    I saw that mouvie and it is really great. Thanks for all this.

  • http://www.castellepatiofurniture.net/ Castelle patio furniture

    These kind of pictures and screen shots makes the film more beatiful..thnks for sharing

  • http://watchbestmoviesonline.net/ Movies Online

    Great post, really help me alot. Thanks.

  • http://peninggi-badan.com Bill Andreas

    but she should have taken a few more, because her sense of rhythm puts her somewhere between Richard Nixon and G. Gordon Liddy.12 When she tosses her hair in her face in a vain attempt to look like a “wild animal,” it’s hard not to look away.peninggi badan

  • http://antiherpes.net/ Gertik

    I like this film. I have got many emotion.

  • http://antiherpes.net/ herpes pictures

    I have got many emotion from this film.

  • http://www.vascularweb.com/ vein therapy westchester ny

    She is really amazing. Thanks for the information and review shared. It was great to read. Nice sharing and keep posting.

  • http://www.allfreegiftcards.net free gift cards

    I have got too

  • http://profiles.google.com/mariaanne123 mariaanne castro

    so sexy. sole e95

  • http://profiles.google.com/mariaanne123 mariaanne castro

    I really loved this post. You write about this topic very well.obviously i bookmarked it.this blog is really nice.thanks for sharing
    sole e95 elliptical

  • http://www.curingherpes.net/ cure for herpes

    The picture seems to be worth watching. I hope to find a DVD of the file in m local store.

  • Best SEO Software

    These Are really very nice collection of image

    most inportant thing all are very good in looking

    i think your work is too good
    Thank’s John

  • Anonymous

    One of the great movie! I want to add something for your information regarding Travel Medical Insurance, check it out
    http://www.medicalinsurancefortravel.orgTravel Medical Insurance
    Travel Medical Insurance