21 user 56 critic

Black Venus (2010)

Vénus noire (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, History | 27 October 2010 (France)
1:22 | Trailer
In the 19th century, a black woman from Africa is on display throughout Europe as an exotic curiosity.


Abdellatif Kechiche (original scenario), Abdellatif Kechiche (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Yahima Torres ... Saartjie 'Sarah' Baartman
Andre Jacobs ... Hendrick Caezar
Olivier Gourmet ... Réaux
Elina Löwensohn ... Jeanne
François Marthouret François Marthouret ... Georges Cuvier
Michel Gionti Michel Gionti ... Jean-Baptiste Berré
Jean-Christophe Bouvet ... Charles Mercailler, le journaliste
Jonathan Pienaar ... Alexander Dunlop
Rémi Martin Rémi Martin ... Le premier client du bordel
Jean-Jacques Moreau Jean-Jacques Moreau ... Henri de Blainville
Cyril Favre Cyril Favre ... Le premier aide naturaliste
Dominique Ratonnat Dominique Ratonnat ... Le 2e aide naturaliste
Didier Bourguignon Didier Bourguignon ... Le 3e aide naturaliste
Ralph Amoussou Ralph Amoussou ... Harry, le premier domestique
Alix Serman 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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Drama | History


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User Reviews

Extraordinary Film about an Extraordinary Woman
2 January 2013 | by mrcibuburSee all my reviews

I finally watched this movie earlier today with a sorrowful heart after first hearing about it a couple of years ago. hard to get it here in Indonesia on DVD, finally got it on two split You Tube downloads.

Yes this is not a film for the faint hearted, it is extremely graphic and harsh in its direction to say the least and certainly long at 2 hours 40 minutes (comparable with the Hobbit which I saw on new Years Eve).

The film is an artistic portrayal of a dignified South African tribal woman who is abused and misled once she arrives first to England and then later to Paris. However, it lacks artistic direction and balance. Not a contradiction in terms exactly.

for example, the opening scene shows her being exhibited in a medical seminar and the end of the movie displays her physical remains which would later be put in a Paris Musueum. My point is that the Director could have taken more attention to detail and put the lady into a greater prospective, perhaps a prequel to the main part of the story (the recent Johnny Depp movie 'Dark shadows" a case in point) showing the lady in her tribal land and how she met the Doctor before arriving to England. The explanation in the movie is all too bland and passed over for the most part. The same applied for the ending although there were some explanatory subtitles and compensating visual glimpses of when she was returned to South Africa.

What we see in this film is no different from what still goes on in our world today but in a different way. We go-global in order to see the very thing that this humble woman was subjected to and we pay to see it, sometimes on the internet - animals as well as humans - and it is only perhaps in western countries that there are anti-voice against the abuse in circuses.

We should watch this film and want to be shocked. Unlike the spectators shown throughout the film, we have the benefit of a greater education and enhanced knowledge but abuse such as Saartje Baartman is shown to endure in the movie, goes on to this day.

There was a lack of cohesion at times in the transition from going London to Paris and then later when Saartje found herself in the Brothels. Yes, she drank and smoked and was inevitably sensitive and temperamental given her real life role play but this is indeed an extraordinary film about an extraordinary woman who is extraordinary for her courage and determination and not so unordinary from any other woman except for her buttocks and her labia, according to the medical scientists.

I certainly enjoyed this film more than the "Hobbit' which bored the pants off me (except for the special effects) and yes 'Venus Noire' is slow and often repetitive but I can share empathy with the Director and in an unkind, cruel, uncomfortable way, this is entertainment.

On a general note, there is no swearing or offensive violence, despite the harsh treatment Saartje Baartman endured while away from South Africa. Yes, she is mostly naked for large sections of the film and there are a couple of later scenes in Paris where she is in a sexual situation but apart from that, this is not a film for a sexual voyeur and don't expect to see flashes of an unusually large labia because you will not.

The standard of acting in this film is excellent. I may be wrong here but this is a French film and so good sub-titles in English or language of your choice are important. I suggest that there are a lot of other movies out there who will shock and offend you a whole lot more than this one.

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Official Sites:

MK2 [France]


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French | Afrikaans | English | Dutch

Release Date:

27 October 2010 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Venus See more »


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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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