#11 The Smiling Madame Beudet (1923)

Any feminists here such as myself? Then this is the post for you because The Smiling Madame Beudet is one of the first feminist films in film history. Madam Beudet is anything but smiley in this short film where she is in a loveless marriage and contemplates whether or not to kill her immature husband to get out of it. While watching this film, I was thinking of the short story “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin of a woman who feels the news of her husband’s sudden death is taken as good news. At the time when anyone heard stories of wives not being happy with their husbands, it was always controversial. And how can it not? After all, women took a vow to be with their man in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, even if he’s playing around with a gun and waving it around…I hope you know I’m being a thousand percent sarcastic right now.

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I consider this film to be very psychological. Madame Beudet may not be speaking her mind in dialogue but she doesn’t have to because we can see it all over her face. When she sees herself in the mirror, she doesn’t even recognize herself and despises how her life has turned out. That when she thinks of him, she thinks of a babbling, immature man. The soft contrast shots and the scenes where she has her inner conflicts says it all. We see things from her perspective and we understand why she has the thoughts that she has. She feels trapped with no way out. Do you think this film at the time was considered controversial? It’s not everyday that people saw a film in the 20s that had a woman not acting like the devoted housewife or the audience sympathize with someone who wishes of murdering her husband. What do you think Madame Beudet should have done to her husband?

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Watch the one of the first feminist films and write in your thoughts:

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