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Alice or The Last Escapade (1977)

Alice ou la dernière fugue (original title)
Alice Carol leaves her husband one rainy night, telling him that she does not love him anymore. She travels alone but when her windscreen breaks on a lonely road, she has to stop and seek ... See full summary »

Director:

Claude Chabrol

Writer:

Claude Chabrol (by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sylvia Kristel ... Alice Caroll
Charles Vanel ... Henri Vergennes
Fernand Ledoux ... Le Vieil Homme et le Docteur
François Perrot ... L'Homme de 40 Ans
Bernard Rousselet Bernard Rousselet ... Le Mari d'Alice
Thomas Chabrol ... L'Enfant de 13 Ans
Jean Cherlian Jean Cherlian ... Emile
Catherine Drusy Catherine Drusy ... La Belle Serveuse et l'Infirmière
Jean Le Boulbar Jean Le Boulbar ... Le Premier Homme (as Jean le Boulbar)
Cécile Maistre Cécile Maistre ... La Petite Fille
Louise Rioton Louise Rioton ... La Femme qui Chante
Katia Romanoff Katia Romanoff ... La Serveuse
Noël Simsolo Noël Simsolo ... Jeune Homme au Banquet
André Dussollier ... Le Jeune Homme et le Pompiste
Jean Carmet ... Colas
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Storyline

Alice Carol leaves her husband one rainy night, telling him that she does not love him anymore. She travels alone but when her windscreen breaks on a lonely road, she has to stop and seek help. She goes to a creepy manor and is welcomed by the owner, Henri Vergennes, and his butler, Colas. Alice is invited to spend the night in the house. The next morning, Alice can't find the two men from he previous night but finds her car surprisingly fixed. She tries to leave but cannot find the gate. She stops the car and walks around the wall trying to find an exit but becomes increasingly worried with what she finds. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sylvia Kristel said in a 1981 interview that she feels this movie bombed because she only had one nude scene. She said "For some reason the roles in which I keep my clothes on never become successful movies." See more »

Connections

Version of Alice (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Le Temps des Cerises
(uncredited)
Music by Antoine Renard
Lyrics by Jean-Baptiste Clément
Sung by Louise Rioton
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User Reviews

 
A Labyrinth of the Misogynistic Gaze
28 January 2020 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

I expected a film with a protagonist named "Alice Carroll" to have something to do with Lewis Carroll's Alice books, but Claude Chabrol's "Alice or the Last Escapade" (although it seems a mistranslation to me to go from "fugue" to "escapade") reminds me more of Luis Buñuel's "The Exterminating Angel" (1962) and seems to have more in common with a different book, which this film's Alice reads in one scene, Jorge Luis Borges's "Fictions." That would explain the quasi-surrealism, labyrinth and purgatory-like entrapment and genre elements closer to horror than to the fairy tales of Carroll. Besides the one character's name, I didn't see much here beyond a checkered floor pattern or a somewhat small door and a generally strange place and characters suggesting that the film took inspiration from the Alice books. It's not an especially egregious bait-and-switch in this regard, although it's a travesty to cite Alice for a film that also reads largely as a reactionary revenge fantasy on the era's politics of second-wave feminism.

Allow me to elaborate. The picture begins with the male gaze (the concept of the "male gaze," itself, being a product of feminist film theory of the same era as this film--within a couple years, in fact, as Laura Mulvey penned her essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" in 1975), as Alice's beau is watching TV. While doing so, he calls upon Alice to listen to him complain about his day. Fed up with this male-centric gaze and storytelling, she announces that she's leaving him. He assumes she's being hysterical (a more accurate reading of the "fugue" in the title, I suspect, with all the misogynistic connotations of diagnosing women "hysterical") and warns her against leaving that night. Undeterred, Alice drives off on her own escapade, but her being a female driver in a man's movie, she soon crashes the car. A film-within-the-film of her emotional reflections is even played out on the windshield before the glass is broken--suggesting the incident has more to do with the emotional storm inside her than with the rainy weather outside.

Alice takes shelter in a mansion in what turns out to be something of a twist on the haunted, old-dark-house formula. The strange men she meets here inform her that she's trapped there and that her state of affairs is a source of amusement for them. In other words, she's found herself the subject of the male gaze, of which she cannot escape. She's confined in a film, with the mansion its theatre. This is, perhaps, most striking in a sequence that would otherwise seem to be a display of gratuitous nudity, as Alice stands seemingly alone in her room with a disembodied voice speaking to her. She tries to cover herself from an unseen gaze. Who's subjugating her with this voyeurism? We, the spectator, are.

This is such a well-constructed bit of reflexive composition centered on the cinematographic apparatus--its gaze and, thus, our gaze. It makes for a more engaging picture than the questionable ideology and trite sexism displayed would otherwise deserve.


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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

19 January 1977 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Alice See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Filmel, P.H.P.G. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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