Mirbeau to Buñuel
(c) 2009 M. Dante / Black Dahlia Creative - Revised 2011
Published in 1900 under the title
Le Journal d`une femme dechambre
is anarchist Octave Mirbeau's scandalous taleof a Parisian maid employed in a bourgeoisie country home. It soundsfairly simple a plot, though truly it puts Wisteria Lane to shame. HarperCollins introduced the vintage tale to the American public in 2007.
Normality impoverishes while deviancy enriches, offering a plethoraof improvisational possibilities
. Robert ZieglerSeptember 1964 Buñuel's
premiered at the New YorkFilm Festival. In his review for the
New York Times
, film critic EugeneArcher laments, « Sadly, the intervening decades seem to have weakenedMr. Buñuel's powers. His new adaptation of Octave Mirbeau's
The Diary of a Chambermaid
suffers in comparison with the strange but memorableversion Jean Renoir did with Paulette Goddard in 1946. » Archercontinues, complimenting the popular Jeanne Moreau, then remarking onthe directors use of the appealing actress, « It seems an ungrateful way totreat a brilliant star whose subtly modulated acting gives meaning to anunresolved and ambiguous script ».
The Diary of Chambermaid
is clear and precise in its scathing socialcommentary of late 19th century class struggle dividing the nobles,aristocracy, bourgeois and the peasant class as told through the diaries of a common petite proletariat, Celestine. The daughter of abusive drunkardwho died when she was young, Celestine matured devoid of both love andstability. She is fascinated by experience and emotion, devoid of fear of consequence or situation. At an equally early age she becomes an agencychambermaid. In each household she emanates the perfected persona of that which is expected, and in each household bizarre, cold, yet humorousintimacies abound. Celestine is polite, yet with the passing of eachhousehold position she becomes more and more empty behind her placidmask. Celestine is, to quote the novel, Originating no where. Belonging no