La BÍte Humaine (Judas Was a Woman)(The Human Beast) Reviews

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flixsterman
Super Reviewer
April 27, 2009
Lovely Simone Simon (see Cat People) is a deadly seductress scheming her way from relationship to relationship. An accomplice to murder, she watches as husband kills lover. Feeling trapped, she takes a new lover, Jacques Lantier (Jean Gabin), and suggests that he kill the husband. A vicious cycle that could continue to perpetuate itself, but good ole' Jacques has a few demons of his own.

La BÍte humaine is a cinematic perfect storm. All the elements (Gabin, Simon, Renoir, Zola) come together to create a masterpiece of romance, tragedy and betrayal.
Super Reviewer
October 9, 2009
I dunno about this one. It had its moments of suspense, romance, etc. The scenes on the train and in the trainyard looked great. I've liked Jean Gabin in everything I've seen him in, and he doesn't disappoint here as Lantier. But forgive me, fans of her beauty (and she IS indeed beautiful), but Simone Simon's screen persona of spoiled pouting child gets old with me really quickly. It worked in Cat People, but here it's just annoying. The substory of the mysterious syndrome that turns Lantier into a murderous psychopath at the drop of a hat seemed very "deux ex machina" to me, kinda lame and gimmicky.The ending would have been more meaningful without it. I felt like this when I saw Le Bete Humaine the first time years ago, and my 2nd veiwing didn't change anything. Basically, a little overrated.
dietmountaindew
Super Reviewer
October 30, 2007
a french renoir classic adapted from the realism mater emile zola's "the human beast"....zola's been noted for his naturalistic and experiemental descriptions of rotten audacity hidden among society in a more objectively severe method instead of vulgar sensationalism....the film version somehow de-sexualizes the original and dignified with a more moral ending as the revival of character conscience brightened by jean gabin's decent mensch image. atagonist jacques has an inherited hatred toward women, struggling to distract his focus from strangling any woman in touch with him to death that only implies a bit in the first 20 mins of the flick. and the film centers more on jacques' guilty consciousness of being descended into a married woman's connived accomplice of murderous crime and his innocent resistance to his mistress's seduction into commiting the actual ruthless murder on her decadent gambling husband. eventually he surrenders to her ingenune-alike femme fatale charisma but what fate and his corrupted blood would repel against his wish to reunite his happiness with her??

in zola's original, jacques is more of lusicous slave empowered by beguiling female allure...also a striking creature in zola's endorsed description...and the cuckolding wife is a lecherous calculated woman who seeks every chance to have affairs....they are both beast-alike and enslaves by their own greed and lust. and adulteris are permeating in the novel...jacques even sleeps with his coleague's wife to testify the syptoms of his peculiarly pathological sexual illness that leads into the catastrophe of a whole trainwreck in the end. the end is a social metaphor commenting that all these beastly scum-men and other bystanding hypocrites should purgated by blood and sentenced to the ruin as serving justice.
but renoir's movie interpretation is rather an individual tradegy, a self-destruction as redemption sort of thing than zola's strictly dissected social criticism tainted with un-forgiving cynicism.

personally i highly recommend zola's novels...he writes those deceased society tales with bluntly sharp perspects without abusive profanity.... english or american literature usually preserve the salving mercy or moralistic lecturing in the very end, even cynicist maugham would assign some saving grace of warming female companionship for his limp protagonist as closure.
Over the Rising Sun
Super Reviewer
½ February 5, 2011
Jean Renoir's dark retelling of the classic novel by Emile Zola has beautiful naturalist cinematography, stunning locomotive sequences, and bravura talent courtesy of the three leads (Gabin, Simon, and Ledoux). La Bete Humaine is the equivalent of Emile Zola (praising everyman values) writing Crime and Punishment, as in all of the characters have hidden scars, mostly from murder, and you watch as they go from having ordinary lives to destructive relationships. There are some amazing moments with Renoir's camerawork and the acting, and a lot of okay ones, and though the finale was intense, the just okay moments overtake most of the film's running time, rendering a longer than it should'v been.

All in all, a great Zolaesque character study. 88/100
Super Reviewer
½ March 10, 2008
Criterion really did an incredible job with this transfer. The images are so crisp.
May 5, 2010
All serious film noir fans should see the baby that started it all. This was the induction of the 'femme fatale' played here by Simone Simon, the petty & child-like schemer in Renoir's brilliant show case about a woman who plays her own devilish games using men to her advantages by seducing them. Jean Gabin made this film for me though, as he is always a pleasure to watch. He suffers from internal demons causing him to do things that he can't explain. It's simply an illness for him and he takes it as reason.

As a whole, it's a good dramatic movie but a bit slow paced at times. However, I did find it to be rewarding in the end. Renoir worked magic with a camera and shot the train scenes with such perfection and magnificence which is important and central to the plot and is in conjunction with Jean Gabin's character. Alot of little details lead me to believe that Renoir was definitely ahead of his time and his legacy lives on because of that.
½ September 9, 2008
a fascinating exploration into the darkness of humanity from jean renoir. the cinematography, especially in the train scenes, is breathtaking. great performances from the 3 central characters. jean gabin is incredible! one of the first noir films and one of the greatest.
June 23, 2014
Banned in Australia by the Commonwealth Censor in 1938. I assume it is still banned in 2014, because I am unable to buy a copy of this dark movie, even if I try to order it from outside Australia. I have watched it from start to finish, because I am fascinated by railways, and the relevant scenes are evocative, true to life, and historic. The story line is deeply disturbing, but nonetheless no worse than Love the Proper Stranger or Oklahoma.
May 21, 2013
Dopo il suo capolavoro La grande illusione, Renoir firma questo Drama espressionista ambientato tra Parigi e Le Havre, sul tragico triangolo amoroso tra una coppia di coniugi composta da un funzionario della stazione di Havre, la giovane e affascinante moglie Sťverine, ed il macchinista Jacques Lantier. Definita da un romanticismo che evoca suggestioni vicine all'influenza naturalista della letteratura e dell'arte visiva, l'opera Ť caratterizzata da una struttura narrativa pregna di forti elementi allegorici, quali riescono, grazie all'efficacia di immagini emblematiche nel preventivare situazioni e risvolti infausti, e piani sequenza ipnotici, a generare un pathos che, questa volta, mostra senza tabý o censure quelle apprensioni pessimiste che tormentavano la classe proletaria in un momento della storia in cui, da lž a poco, sarebbero state messe a dura prova le convinzioni e le ideologie di questa problematica casta sociale. Il risentimento da parte di Lantier (un impeccabile Gabin) di non poter uscire dai suoi schemi "ereditari" (lui stesso afferma di essere il discendente di una famiglia di alcolisti) lo porterŗ a compiere quegli istinti omicidi manifestati verso le sue amanti, spesso paradossalmente attratte proprio dalla sua apparente condizione di serenitŗ ed autocontrollo; un onesto lavoratore che si ritrova a fare i conti con l'arroganza del ceto aristocratico, come per il suo collega Roubaud, anche lui ormai stanco di una vita "ordinaria" e constantemente sull'orlo paranoico di una crisi di nervi (triste ma significativa la scena in cui ruba dei soldi dal portafoglio dell'amante della moglie, ucciso con la complicitŗ di quest'ultima, e verso cui, in un primo momento, aveva promesso a sť stesso di non impossessarsi dei suoi averi; promessa che, come visto, durerŗ ben poco). Questi sentimenti di frustazione e collera porteranno i due protagonisti a quei comportamenti violenti ed pericolosamente impulsivi quali li identificheranno come "bestie umane" (dal titolo del romanzo d'ispirazione di Zola): ad affliggere gli animi inquieti di Jacques e Roubaud, c'Ť, appunto, Sťverine: femme fatale che si puÚ rivelare un'arma a doppio taglio; anche lei, infatti, decisa ad entrare nel mondo della piccola borghesia con tutti i compromessi possibili, persino brutali (sebbene il personaggio, in sť, non si possa considerare esattamente "malvagio"). Il destino dei tre sciagurati non potrŗ che essere nefasto. Nonostante il ritmo lento della trama, Renoir dirige eccellentemente i ruoli di Gabin, Ledoux, e Simon con una maniera autentica che gli permette di rappresentare una suspense della messa in scena giocata sul continuo alterco tra buon costume e violazione delle regole.
January 23, 2013
Brilliantly directed by Jean Renoir, La Bete Humaine is filled with wonderful performances and expert composition.
½ October 31, 2012
Having watched Fritz Lang's remake first (Human Desire, 1953) several years ago, I couldn't help but think of Gloria Grahame, Glenn Ford, and Broderick Crawford in the key roles while watching Renoir's original version of the Emile Zola story. Jean Gabin is one of my favorites but somehow Glenn Ford gets more of the noir sleaze into his performance (or so I recall now). Of course, it is great to see Renoir himself acting (as a buffoon who takes the fall for the first murder) and his mise en scene and command of his actors is masterful as usual. But this just doesn't reach the levels of his other masterpieces (nor is it dark enough, despite the subject matter, which sees a man encouraging his wife to obtain a favor for him from her "godfather" and then murdering him with her complicity when he realizes what she did to obtain the favor; Gabin witnesses the murder and falls in love with the wife).
March 16, 2012
Amazing film, one of the first films that really open my eyes as a young child (9 years old). I remember the feeling when we could hear the train passing by, the face of Jean Gabin, the psychological intensity. A must must see. On my top 10 (maybe being a little bit bias).
½ July 30, 2011
Brrr... Renoir, que macabro. :-D
May 11, 2011
This gets a place on my short list.
April 30, 2011
POWERFUL !!! TRAINS TRAINS TRAINS !!!
½ March 23, 2011
Ok, now it's official... not only Hollywood classics suck big time.
In fact, I hardly have ever even seen a Hollywood film (from any time) that was as bad and as unsatisfying as this film.
The acting was crap, the dialogue... phuh... it had literally no story.
I wasted time of my precious life for this...
Over the Rising Sun
Super Reviewer
½ February 5, 2011
Jean Renoir's dark retelling of the classic novel by Emile Zola has beautiful naturalist cinematography, stunning locomotive sequences, and bravura talent courtesy of the three leads (Gabin, Simon, and Ledoux). La Bete Humaine is the equivalent of Emile Zola (praising everyman values) writing Crime and Punishment, as in all of the characters have hidden scars, mostly from murder, and you watch as they go from having ordinary lives to destructive relationships. There are some amazing moments with Renoir's camerawork and the acting, and a lot of okay ones, and though the finale was intense, the just okay moments overtake most of the film's running time, rendering a longer than it should'v been.

All in all, a great Zolaesque character study. 88/100
January 20, 2011
The exquisite performances by the love triangle and also by the protagonists friend make this film noir such an enthralling and enchanting experience.
November 24, 2010
Saw the Fritz Lang Remake before allthough it still was a Impression to me the Style is really amazing and the Direction, Camera Work and the Actors brilliant the Music ist Bombastic
½ April 26, 2010
"The Human Beast" is a great example of film noir a decade before the genre existed. In this film Renoir takes us on a tour of what seems to be a working class utopia with train engineer Lantier as our guide. However, like his own beloved locomotive, Lantier's life is always one overheated axle away from derailing!

Jean Renoir paints a loving portrait of the everyman: a contented "human beast" with reliable friends, pride in his hard work and a mistress in each railway town. By altering between realistic location shots and dramatically lit cinematic fantasy compositions, Renoir takes us back and forth between the familiar reality of working class society, and a more invasive look at the same people's dirty secrets. Renoir, of course, then indulges in using an upper class scumbag to instigate a series of events that lead to the murders, jealousy and love triangles that motivate the intrigue and drama for the rest of the film.

The actors perform in an understated manner, and thereby the acting feels very modern and accessible. Just a simple glance between two characters reveals their relationship more effectively than the cliche Hollywood "tear-jerk scene". Gabin is especially good at portraying a character that reminded me of Ed Norton's Narrator in Fight Club, while Simone Simon is equal parts sex kitten and evil seductress, so much so that we can't tell which of those is her personality, and which is her front. Fernand Ledoux portrays the third part of the main love triangle as an impulsively violent Tyler Durden-type, although overwhelmed by a pathetic streak of regret that would inevitably plague a man with such a personality.

Instead of raging against his society, like The Narrator from Fight Club, Lantier laments the internal source of his demons, even before the film begins, with an onscreen quote from Emile Zola's novel of the same name. Regardless of this internalization, Renoir's film is just as scathing with his dissection of French society's class structure, as Fincher's is with his anti-capitalism opus. In the end, while the modern Fincher goes for the gusto, Renoir chooses to shun the catastrophic ending of his source material for something more effectively cinematic.

I would recommend the film to anyone who enjoys film noir, murderous love triangles or particularly, trains. After all, the one true love that lasts for the entire film is between Lantier and his locomotive, Lison. This is yet another great film from the man Orson Welles called, "The Greatest of all Directors".
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