...And God Created Woman (1956)
May 8, 2024 1:21 PM - Subscribe

In sunny St. Tropez, a young woman loves one brother but marries the other.

The astounding success of Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman revolutionized the foreign film market and turned Brigitte Bardot into an international star. Bardot stars as Juliette, an 18-year-old orphan whose unbridled appetite for pleasure shakes up all of St. Tropez; her sweet but naïve husband Michel (Jean-Louis Trintignant) endures beatings, insults, and mambo in his attempts to tame her wild ways.

Clare Hughes: To be honest, I am more focused on Bardot than the rest of the film. The hair, the lips, the eyes; in every scene, she is effortlessly captivating. If you have not seen it then I seriously recommend watching the trailer quickly which you can find here. Bardot plays an 18-year old orphan called Juliette, that ends up driving the men of St.Tropez into an erotic frenzy. After the film, St.Tropez became a hot spot for the rich and famous, turning it into the luxury destination that we all know today. She was married to the films director Roger Vadim at the time, and I feel that this is apparent in the way she is portrayed on camera. Vadim knew how to maximise her attraction and charm on screen and there is something slightly voyeuristic about the way the camera lingers on her in multiple shots. The camera focuses on her hair a lot in the film, with frequent shots of her staring ardently into the distance whilst the wind wisps and rustles through her soft, blonde curls. Bardot is actually responsible for the later invention of the ‘choucroute’ hairstyle.

Ada Pîrvu: Brigitte Bardot looked like a goddess and had such a physical presence, the magnificent posture of a dancer. She was no studio-manufactured star, she lived the way she pleased, throwing conventions away, and she invented a fashion all of her own: it was this freedom that made her so provocative. Much like Brigitte in real life, Juliette, her character in And God Created Woman, directed by her husband at the time, Roger Vadim, is an uninhibited young woman, exuding spontaneity and insouciant sensuality, who loves freedom and independence and who scandalizes the small fishing village of Saint Tropez with her unconscious exhibitionism – “the child-woman, or more precisely, the infant-woman”, François Truffaut would name Bardot’s character.

With long, golden, artfully tousled hair (she invented the choucroute, the ruffled and back-combed hair style, which became a trend in the 1960s and is still imitated today –
the secret is in the expert build-up of layers, they say), feline eyes with black eyeliner and heavy mascara and sulky lips emphasized by a slightly darker pencil, wearing clothes that reflected her character, seemingly innocent, yet extraordinary sexy, the myth of Brigitte Bardot was born – Bardot was in many ways playing herself.

Musings from a Tangled Mind: No one, with the exception of Michel, truly cared for her. Michel. He saw past her mood swings, her so-called sex drive (which to me always seemed “put on” in an effort to be accepted and loved by men rather than a true sex drive), her obvious manic episodes…he saw the real her and loved her. At the end, he is the only one who stood by her, albeit a bit roughly. However, his attitude and actions convince Juliette, finally, that he’s not leaving her side despite her frenzied behavior. And this in spite of the others trying to convince him she was a bad person. Michel was the only male character to rise above and do his gender justice. Quite frankly, I felt this was the movie’s only saving grace — the ending — when Juliette finally discovered the “one” who truly loved the real person she was inside. We should all be so lucky.

But even as the credits rolled, my thoughts remained snagged on the general theme, rather than the final scene.

While not her first movie, this particular film made Brigitte Bardot a global “sex symbol.” Or a “sex kitten.” And what did those words mean to men at the time – or even now?

Not a beautiful woman, self-confident, who had the respect and admiration of men, but rather someone whom they lusted after – whom they would possess if they could and whom they would equally despise if she allowed them to possess her. Much like the character in the movie.

I didn’t see an erotic drama in this movie, nor did I see it as a film reveling in the “sexual revolution” or celebrating sexual liberation. I saw a sad testament of a woman desperately seeking love and acceptance and only finding men who wanted to use her and throw her away.

posted by Carillon (2 comments total)
With perhaps a more modern look at the film, there's so much going on here beneath the surface, but I'm not sure if it's intentional or unintentional subtext. Bardot, and to a lesser extent Trintignant, are very clearly the sympathetic characters to me, but I don't know how much the film or it's POV actually agrees with that statement. Is it subverting the seemingly established norms? It feels that way sometimes, but the way the camera leans on Bardot, as well as the framing putting the viewer in Curd Jurgens' shoes makes it feel like maybe not?
posted by Carillon at 1:25 PM on May 8

I started watching this tonight because of this thread. Not following it well because i keep puttering around and forgetting to watch the subtitles.

Someone I used to know once casually compared me to Bardot. I look nothing like her (maybe, vaguely, my hair). I do like to go barefoot? Not in the office, though.

Doesn’t matter now.
posted by bunderful at 9:54 PM on May 9

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