Bluebeard's Castle

  • Feb. 26th, 2009 at 2:25 PM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (fantomas)
The story of Bluebeard exists in several variations, but usually goes like this: a poor girl gets married off to an ugly (though rich) brute who tells her he can go anywhere in his house/mansion/castle but this one room, and that she must keep this key/egg with her at all times. By the way, he says, I'm going on a trip. The wife, driven by her womanly curiosity, enters the forbidden room to find a bloody abattoir filled with former Mrs. Bluebeards. She drops the key/egg, and to her dismay finds the blood will not wash off, thus alerting Bluebeard upon his return that she has gone against his orders.

This happens a few times until lucky number three, usually a sister of the other two, devises a clever plan to avoid dropping the key/egg or alert some sort of lover or brother of her predicament. This wife is rescued, and sometimes rescues the other wives, who can be sewed back together or pulled out of hell or otherwise recovered. The story is a flip-side of "Beauty and the Beast," where the vicious new husband really is a monster who cannot be redeemed, and where the woman's main attribute, curiosity, gets her into trouble. I suppose the lesson is that marriage is scary for a young girl, and sometimes the vicious beast turns out to be all right—and sometimes he doesn’t. I’ve written a little about this before, in the context of The Phantom of the Opera.

This basic storyline is more or less absent from Bartok’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle and Michael Powell’s 1963 film for German television. This film is very rare, and a few weeks ago [ profile] tkp, Mr. Daroga and myself got the opportunity to see the one print that’s available. According to Powell’s wishes, the German opera is presented without translation, and only a few descriptive subtitles cue you in to certain emotions or events. (You can see the first 9 minutes here)


some spoilers for a movie you probably won't see )
That got a little rambly. I had this all written in my mind last week, and it fell out. I would encourage anyone interested in forming their own opinion to see this if they get the chance. Especially Stefanie—I think you’d love it.


my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (Default)
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