House of Tolerance
At an elegant Parisian bordello at the dawn of the 20th century, exists a cloistered world of pleasure, pain, hope, rivalries, and most of all, slavery.At an elegant Parisian bordello at the dawn of the 20th century, exists a cloistered world of pleasure, pain, hope, rivalries, and most of all, slavery.At an elegant Parisian bordello at the dawn of the 20th century, exists a cloistered world of pleasure, pain, hope, rivalries, and most of all, slavery.
Having researched heavily on this subject for one of my own works, I found it to be an eye-opening film. It's an intimate look behind the closed doors of a house of pleasure focusing on the lives of its mistress, prostitutes, and patrons.
It covers such aspects as registering as prostitutes with the Bureau of Morales, being indebted to mistresses and unable to leave their employ because of it, champagne baths with customers, selection parlors, global fashions worn by prostitutes, opulent client bedrooms, and the regulated visits by the physician examining the workers every 15 days for sign of sexually transmitted disease.
The movie contains naked women, sexually explicit scenes, and is not for the prudish or faint of heart. There are scenes of abuse of one of the girls, which may be disturbing to viewers. It delves honestly into the reality of life as a French prostitute, focusing on the sad and hopeless plight of women in brothels. The particular establishment depicted in this movie catered to aristocrats and rich businessmen, much like the Chabanais, which was one of the well-known brothels of its day.
The movie is two hours, slow moving, and not the best flick you'll ever see. Most of the sexual scenes show the men enjoying their paid visits, while the women merely go through the motions void of emotion. As troubling as the scenes were, I found myself transported into the world I researched and came away shocked at seeing the reality portrayed on screen.
Let's face it, being a prostitute wasn't glamorous. It was a profession that many poor and unskilled women chose in order to survive. It was a dangerous job where women died of syphilis, lived lives with no hope, and sold their bodies in order to eat and have housing. It portrayed a society that found pleasure in sex, living a way of life where brothels were an acceptable form of male entertainment until they were abolished in the early 20th century.
If historical films interest you on all levels, I can attest that this one hits the mark in every way. Being a French film, it adequately portrays the heyday of legalized prostitution.
- May 4, 2014