Review: Et Dieu… Créa La Femme (…And God Created Woman, 1956)

and god created woman

If that’s the woman god created, then I will put my hands together for god!

Written By: Raoul Lévy & Roger Vadim
Directed By: Roger Vadim

Brigitte Bardot is gorgeous, sexual, sensual, alluring, and whatever other provocative term one wants to toss her way. Every second of her screen time in Et Dieu… Créa La Femme earns her the sexpot label she would wear for the entirety of her career, and life. Her movements and sultry mannerisms are the stuff of legend, the great golden goose that men chase after when they’re trying to find the embodiment of what it is to be a physically attractive woman. There’s more to her though, and there’s much more to Et Dieu… Créa La Femme than the voluptuous figure of Mademoiselle Bardot.

The figure of Mademoiselle Bardot provides the framework for Et Dieu… Créa La Femme. What provides the inertia for the film is the characters reacting to the figure of Juliette, Mademoiselle Bardot. Male or female, young or old, each and every character in Et Dieu… Créa La Femme is effected in some way by the sexiness of Juliette. Through their reactions to Juliette we can glean their outlook on the world, gender roles, sex, male prowess, female sheepishness, and so on and so forth. Roger Vadim never shies away from the figure of Mademoiselle Bardot, and that’s because he uses her beauty as a blunt force instrument through which to attack the more traditional views on sexuality.

Taking away one of Juliette’s actions that happens late in the film, what is so wrong with the way she acts? She flaunts her beauty, but in the same way that smart people should flaunt their brains so should a beautiful person flaunt their beauty. She’s incredibly human in that she wants people to treat her a certain way and when they don’t she sinks to the level of what people expect from her. She has intelligence, she shows this time and time again, but that never stops those around her from thinking she’s nothing more than a pair of breasts and a vagina. She’s complicated in how she views the world, but that simply can’t be for those she comes into contact with. A woman who acknowledges her sexuality is something evil after all, not a being capable of emotion and depth.

Monsieur Vadim manages to make a subtle film without it seeming too subtle. The focus appears to be entirely on the sexiness of Juliette, and that hides the true intentions of the film from a lot of people I would wager. The first time we meet Antoine is a perfect example of the subtle nature of Et Dieu… Créa La Femme. He’s a on a bus and we are privy to him absentmindedly stroking a cat. Then Juliette is on the bus, having already been marginalized by the bus driver who says she has an “ass that could sing.” What does Antoine do, he strokes her hair and caresses her in the same way he did that cat. Juliette is nothing more than a plaything to Antoine, no matter how hard she tries to convince him otherwise.

The knowing nature of Juliette is what truly pushes Et Dieu… Créa La Femme over the edge. She knows that the men covet her for the most base of reasons, and that the women in her village despise her because of her elemental attractions. Juliette is fully aware of how people feel about her and why they feel the way they do. The true enigma to her is the character of Michel, who is attracted to her for her sexuality, but also harbors deeper feelings for her. Because of the way that she’s been treated her whole life Juliette retreats from Michel’s affection. She runs to the men who will gladly remind her of the role of the female sexpot and not present as much of a conundrum as Michel. The fact that Juliette knows all of this adds untold layers to the character.

Et Dieu… Créa La Femme isn’t going to win any awards for its god awful fight scenes. Seriously man, the fight scenes in this movie are among some of the worst I’ve sever seen. Thankfully the rest of the film is terrific, in just about every way that a film can be terrific. Most people came away from Et Dieu… Créa La Femme thinking of Brigitte Bardot as nothing more than sex in a dress (or sometimes in nothing at all). There is truth to such a line of thinking, but that’s not all there is to Mademoiselle Bardot, Juliette, or Et Dieu… Créa La Femme. Monsieur Vadim’s film is very smart, very astute, and a film that addresses gender issues in a smart and brutally adult manner.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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