Plot: What’s it about?
The sun may be hot in the island paradise of St. Tropez, but Juliette Hardy (Brigitte Bardot) is nothing short of smoldering. The eighteen year old beauty has the sexual presence to drive an entire coastal community up the wall, as all of the men watch her and pine with lust. But not all of the men send her into fits of passion, just Antoine and as of now, he has left her behind thanks to a slip in her morality, as she bedded another man. With Antoine out of the picture, his brother Michel (Jean-Louis Trintignant) proposes to Juliette and she agrees to wed him, though not out of true love. He quickly tires of her wandering eyes and body, so he begins to try to tame her somehow, but he is the one who ends up tamed and in some cases, even worse. When she was with Antoine, she was also with Eric (Curd Jurgens) and that made him leave her, but now Eric has plans to bring Antoine back, in order to further his own ideas. What will become of Juliette and the men in her life, once her true love returns to the beaches of St. Tropez?
Although this is not one of the natural choices to rest in The Criterion Collection, it has a lot of historical value, if just for the presence of Brigitte Bardot. This was not her first feature film role by any means, but it was the one that skyrocketed her to fame and in the end, it would be the most well known turn of her career. Perhaps this is not high art like some other installments in Criterion’s series, but it does make for a worthwhile watch and as Bardot’s stepping stone, it forever holds a place in cinematic legend. The story is simple and sometimes falters, but remains decent enough to carry the events, which is enough here. In truth, …And God Created Woman lacks the writing and acting levels to be considered a great movie, but it does have some positive elements. Aside from the stunning Bardot and her assets, it also has some gorgeous cinematography, shot in scope with much attention to detail. I love to watch Vadim’s films just to soak in the visuals and this film is no different, the photography is one of the true saving graces here. This is a no brainer for fans of Bardot, but anyone interested should give this one a look, as it offers a lot to the eyes…
She is now a true legend of cinema, but before …And God Created Woman, Brigitte Bardot was just another actress in the business. Although she has been in a number of films before this one, she had never broken through, until Roger Vadim placed her in this role. Yes, she shows little in terms of traditional acting skills here, but she has presence and in this case, that is enough to make her performance immortal. We might have more lax standards in terms of censors now, but back in this era, it was shocking to see naked flesh, which made Bardot’s turn even more memorable. Even in today’s world however, few females can match Bardot’s command of the screen, fully clothed or otherwise. Other films with Bardot include The Night Heaven Fell, Les Femmes, Please Not Now, Plucking the Daisy, and Love on a Pillow. The cast also includes Jean-Louis Trintignant (Violent Summer, The Terrace), Curd Jurgens (Nurses for Sale, The Mafia Wants Your Blood), and Jeanne Marken (Careless Love, Vagabond Humor).
Video: How does it look?
…And God Created Woman is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The image here looks cleaner than I ever would have expected, thanks to an extensive digital restoration and clean-up effort by Criterion. As shown in the included restoration demonstration, a massive amount of nicks, pops, and debris have been removed, which leaves a very sharp, clean source element behind. The colors look so vivid and bold, it is hard to believe this film was made in 1956, as there is no evidence of fades in the least. No issues with contrast either, this is a terrific overall visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
The original French soundtrack is preserved here via a mono option, which seems to be more than up to snuff. I heard some small source flaws at times, but nothing even close to serious, so I doubt anyone will be let down here. The vocals seem on the mark and never get muddled, while the music and sound effects stream through with no real problems. I think as far as 1956 mono tracks go, this is a good one and as such, I won’t complain much. This disc also includes new & improved optional English subtitles, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a brief restoration demonstration, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.