Black Venus (2010)
"Vénus noire" (original title)

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The story of Saartjes Baartman, a Black domestic who, in 1808, left Southern Africa, then ruled by Dutch settlers, for Europe, following her boss Hendrick Caesar , hoping to find fame and ... See full summary »


(original scenario), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Yahima Torres ...
Saartjie 'Sarah' Baartman
Hendrick Caezar
Elina Löwensohn ...
François Marthouret ...
Michel Gionti ...
Jean-Baptiste Berré
Charles Mercailler, le journaliste
Jonathan Pienaar ...
Alexander Dunlop
Rémi Martin ...
Le premier client du bordel
Jean-Jacques Moreau ...
Henri de Blainville
Cyril Favre ...
Le premier aide naturaliste
Dominique Ratonnat ...
Le 2e aide naturaliste
Didier Bourguignon ...
Le 3e aide naturaliste
Ralph Amoussou ...
Harry, le premier domestique
Alix Serman ...
Matthew, le deuxième domestique


The story of Saartjes Baartman, a Black domestic who, in 1808, left Southern Africa, then ruled by Dutch settlers, for Europe, following her boss Hendrick Caesar , hoping to find fame and fortune there. Once in London her master turned manager does nothing but exhibit her as a freak in a phony and humiliating carnival show. After a series of troubles caused by their act, Caesar, Saartje and their new friend, bear-tamer Réaux, head for Paris where once again, and against her will, she has to mimic savagery and expose her body, first in carnivals, then in the aristocratic salons of Paris, later on among the libertines and finally in brothels where she ends up being a prostitute. In the meantime, French anatomists will have taken an interest in her unusual anatomy (enormous buttocks and labia) only to declare her the missing link from ape to man. In 1815, aged only 27, she dies alone, of a combination of pneumonia and venereal disease. Written by Guy Bellinger

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Release Date:

27 October 2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Black Venus  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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French visa # 112112. See more »

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User Reviews

Venus = Christ?
9 November 2010 | by (France) – See all my reviews

Was this film 3 hours long or fourteen? Kechiche takes us across borders (Africa / Europe, Dead / Living, Savage / Civilized) in a movie that has the gravitas and sensual weight of a kind of stations of the cross. The "Venus" is our Christ, suffering for and as the direct result of our sins, chief among those the blindness we call racism. Potently, even explosively mixed with virulent sexism, racism shapes the ever more horrible experience of the film's subject, as she is reduced (figuratively and then literally) to an object. The film is gorgeous, infinitely wise about the costs of being marked (trapped in the legibly different body), smart about the role that money plays in the ongoing betrayal (if Judas saw this film he'd really feel rooked: the point is not to sell out Christ, the point is how many times you can--for an increasing price--take trust to market), and worth every minute of horrified attention. Then--you ask-- why an "8"? Of course we are (as the film is eager to point out), as spectators, aligned with all those who want to look at this...complicated site of excitements--but we are also (in tight close-up for the tears that always start in Yahima Torres' left eye) vaguely miserable with her (growling at the end of a chain is okay, being touched is--at first--not) and then...nowhere. Who was she? What did she (aside from bright red leather gloves and a tres joli hat) want? There's something about this film, in other words, that seems just about as hard and cold and stiff as the plaster cast of the Hottentot, which seems always just on the verge of coming to life.

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