Life in an elegant Parisian brothel in the early twentieth century. The madam essentially owns the women: their expenses exceed earnings, they are in debt. They face problems of pregnancy, opium, age, and violent clients. One reads sociology at her peril. Occasionally, a client talks of marriage. There are also friendships and affection among the women. The madam is in a dispute with her landlord and calls on influential clients to help. There's a picnic one summer day, a wake, and an evening in masks. Have they expectations? In a coda, we watch a street scene in contemporary Paris.Written by
The casting says "Clotilde" but her name is misspelled (as "Clothilde", rather a common error in France) in the movie when we see the lines of name/debt written by the matron. See more »
A character says he's been to the inauguration ceremony of the Paris Metro. After that there is a scene where we hear fireworks for Bastille Day (14 July). The opening of the Paris Metro (Line 1) was on 19 July 1900, five days after Bastille Day. See more »
Historically Accurate Portrayal of Legalized Prostitution
This movie is a graphically shocking film about prostitution in France in a mansion of tolerance. It's French ("L'Apollonide") with English sub-titles.
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.
10 of 23 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this