La BÍte Humaine (Judas Was a Woman)(The Human Beast) Reviews
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...
All in all, a great Zolaesque character study. 88/100
Roubaud is an ostensibly normal trains-station master, married to S√ (C)verine a beautiful woman of questionable virtue. Lantier is an engineer on a Locomotive who is occasionally seized by fits of manic rage which he believes come from his fathers and grandfathers history of alcoholism.
Only the roar of the trains calm Lantier‚(TM)s inexplicable rages. Roubaud seems to love his wife, and due to a complaint from a wealthy patron asks her to see if she can have her wealthy land-baron godfather named Grandmorin, smooth things over.
S√ (C)verine agrees, but after a stray joke about how it‚(TM)s possible that he could be her father, is forced to confess to having long ago been the old man‚(TM)s mistress.
This drives Roubaud to decide to kill Grandmorin, and forcing S√ (C)verine to help, so that they may be ‚bonded‚? together anew and forever. They commit the murder on an all but empty train, all but empty save for Lantier.
When the cops question Lantier however, he says he saw no one. To ‚win him over‚?, S√ (C)verine begins an affair with him. Here‚(TM)s where things got complicated.
There are many ways to view ‚La Bete Humaine‚? from this point on in the film. S√ (C)verine may be incapable of love as she says due to being a teenage mistress to her godfather (or possibly real father), and intends only to use Lantier to get rid of Roubaud whose become a melancholy gambling louse since the murder. The picture perfect femme fatale.
It‚(TM)s also possible that though she has never loved anyone prior to Lantier, that her feelings for him genuine, and that she sincerely sees no way for them to be together while she remains married.
Roubaud‚(TM)s absence from the later half of the film, his diminishing importance and only referential presence, would seem to argue in favor of S√ (C)verine as manipulator. After the murder he seems unconcerned with S√ (C)verine affairs, as if avenging his/her honor removed any desire he had to preserve it thereafter.
Lantier‚(TM)s violent actions are equally mysterious; either he is destroying what he cannot have, because he cannot have it, or destroying what he wants most deeply for reasons beyond his control. Is it the ‚drunkards in his blood‚? that eventually triumph over him, or do his own resentments and fears over this specific situation get the better of him?
The trains connect all the characters together, but the trains also have no resting place, they are in constant motion save for the occasional breakdown. They could symbolize the alienation of the characters from the natural world around them, or from normal healthy relationships which travel makes tenous.
The trains mostly serve director Jean Renoir, in setting the tone for the brisk pace of the film and providing opportunities for excellent cinematography.
Their use as symbols is less fruitful than the questions of the motivations of the characters who inhabit and surround them.
Though it‚(TM)s arguable that no one truly loves anyone else in this film, I believe I will remember "La Bete Humaine" (the Human Beast) as a love story more than a noir or crime thriller. That is to say I side with team-S√ (C)verine was being genuine with Lantier.
It‚(TM)s only after we‚(TM)ve been made to feel for the characters and to truly and fully hope with them that they may escape their predicaments, that the full force of the tragedy can take effect.
I was much more impressed with ‚La Bete Humaine‚? than I had expected to be, it has none of the pacing or acting problems I normally associate with films of this era (though at least one review from the films release complained of Renoir ‚jumping too fast from scene to scene‚? and the characters being difficult to comprehend.). Its story was timeless in the best possible ways, and its execution close to flawless, at least as far as I think I understand Renoir‚(TM)s aims.
A quick peruse of a summary of Emile Zola‚(TM)s novel of the same name, tells a much darker and broader tale, with more characters, more deaths, and goings on long after the film‚(TM)s version ends. Focusing on Lantier and S√ (C)verine, their relationship and the murder, Renoir forces us to ask these questions about why we destroy the things we love.
Roubaud destroys his relationship with his wife, which we discover only later was not ideal when the film began, but certainly not in smolders as it is later. S√ (C)verine has many opportunities to leave and start again herself. The trains are always coming and going. Why does she remain where she is most miserable?
As for Lantier why does he do what he does with regard to S√ (C)verine, and why does he hold back earlier in the film?
Was he afraid she would leave him after he became useless?
Early traumas come back to haunt our two desperate lovers, who though connected to the constantly coming and going trains and their illusion of freedom, are permanently attached to their rails of their own destinies and mangled desires. For better in the short term, and worse in the long.