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Claude Chabrol's Aesthetics of Opacity$
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Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780748692606

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748692606.001.0001

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The Human Beast

The Human Beast

(p.72) Chapter 3 The Human Beast
Claude Chabrol's Aesthetics of Opacity

Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines Chabrol’s fascination with ‘human beasts’ or ‘monsters’ through the following (overlapping) motifs: the serial killer, the automaton and the female killer. Through detailed film analysis and close attention to techniques, it shows how Chabrol uses these figures to rethink the boundaries and concepts of normality. Although he often provides a detailed social and ideological framework within which to problematize the human beast, class and gender are misleading keys and causality is ultimately blurred to the point of opacity. The closer one gets to the monster (sometimes literally, through the use of close-up shots), the less one understands it. Case studies of the following films illuminate how Chabrol explores film grammar to convey the complexities of human nature and the fragmented, opaque nature of evil: Le Boucher; Landru; Les Fantômes du chapelier; Violette Nozière; La Demoiselle d’honneur; Blood Relatives.

Keywords:   Monster, Human beast, Serial killer, Automaton, Close-up shot

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