Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: ...And God Created Woman: Criterion Edition (1956)
Studio Line: Criterion - ...but the devil invented Brigitte Bardot!

The astounding success of Roger Vadim's And God Created Woman revolutionized the foreign film market and turned Brigitte Bardot into an international star. Bardot stars as Juliette, an 18-year-old orphan whose unbridled appetite for pleasure causes trouble in the French Riviera; her staid husband Michel (Jean-Louis Trintignant) endures beatings, insults, and mambo in his attempts to tame her. Criterion presents this milestone of cinematic naughtiness in a stunning new 16x9 Eastmancolor transfer, supervised by the late director.

Director: Roger Vadim
Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Curd Jurgens, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Christian Marquand, Marie Glory, George Poujously
Box Office: Gross: $2.0 million.
DVD: Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9; audio French Digital Mono; subtitles English; single side - single layer; 21 chapters; rated NR; 92 min.; $29.95; street date 7/11/00.
Supplements: U.S. Theatrical Trailer; Restoration Demonstration.
Purchase: DVD | Brigitte Bardot DVD Collection Box Set - Anchor Bay | Stars & Stardom in French Cinema - Ginette Vincendeau | Score soundtrack - Paul Misraki

Picture/Sound/Extras: B/C+/D-

Colin's continuing cinematic confessions, part 72: although I've known of ...And God Created Woman for quite some time, I never actually saw the film and honestly thought it was probably going to be a glorified Playboy video. My pre-screening ideas about it? Bardot, sex kitten, plotless, maybe hot - that's about it.

I even had a vaguely negative connotations associated with the movie, largely because Prince did a song called "And God Created Woman" on his O+> album, and it stunk. Plus, it didn't help that the director of ...AGCW, Roger Vadim, also helmed the absolutely abysmal Barbarella.

Although ...AGCW never remotely rivals that later release from Vadim for sheer silliness and stupidity, I can't say it really did much for me. My initial thoughts about the piece were ultimately pretty accurate. Overall, I found it to be a fairly dull movie, with almost no plot and weak character development, though Bardot certainly looked good. As our main character Juliette, Bardot creates little more than a stereotypical "wild child". At times I felt some pity for Juliette because many people treat her with no respect; the older women in the piece especially view her negatively.

However, as the film proceeds, one learns that Juliette doesn't really deserve any respect. Put bluntly, she's a bitch who uses her looks to get what she wants, although she seems somewhat unsuccessful in that regard. At times we see a glimpse of a kinder, gentler Juliette, one who recognizes that she should change her ways, but it doesn't last long, and she reverts to the nasty, unsympathetic character we see for most of the film.

The whole movie is populated with annoying, mean-spirited characters. The nicest guy is Michel, who hopes to make Juliette his happy wife. However, she uses him, since she's attracted to Michel's jerky brother Antoine, and little works out positively.

The film is essentially a plodding bore. Only Bardot's undeniable sex appeal makes any impact. I'm not a big fan of blondes, but even though Bardot shows no true nudity (she's naked in some scenes, but we see none of her juicy bits), she still got my motor running; the woman seriously could steam up the screen.

But ...And God Created Woman has little else going for it. It's a dull movie full of unlikable characters. Despite its historical impact, the movie itself is a dog.

The DVD:

...And God Created Woman appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not without flaws, the movie looks quite good for a film of its era, and it seems that most of the problems result mainly from the film stock, not from the transfer.

Sharpness provides one of the DVD's main weaknesses, as at least half of the movie appears slightly soft and fuzzy. The sharpness problem isn't extreme, and it likely stems from the film itself, as ...AGCW isn't the only movie from the Fifties that looks this way. Unfortunately, all excuses and reasons aside, the picture still seems rather soft much of the time, and I had to deduct points for that factor.

Moiré effects and jagged edges appear only on a limited basis, and I noticed some artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV but not many. The best part of this DVD relates to the print flaws, of which there are extraordinarily few. Some mild grain infects a few scenes, and I detected a nick or two and a few speckles, but that was it; Criterion did an absolutely marvelous job of cleaning up the picture.

Colors seem bright and bold but muddy, which is another fault related to the era; films from the Fifties often showed these kinds of over-saturated hues. Overall, the colors actually look pretty good, but a vaguely orange tone dominates the movie. Black levels seemed adequate, and shadow detail was fine; neither played an especially important role in this usually brightly-lit film, so I have little to say about them. Faults and all, I remain impressed with the image of ...AGCW; it seems quite good and should definitely please fans of the movie.

More mediocre is the monaural soundtrack of ...And God Created Woman. Because all of the dialogue is in the original French, I can't really comment on the intelligibility of it all (though if someone said "Royale with Cheese", I'd be on firm ground). I did find the speech to seem rather rough, especially when the volume level escalated; at those times, dialogue appeared pretty distorted and harsh. Effects generally seemed acceptably clear and concise, but they displayed a thinness typical for the era, and louder sounds also came across as edgy.

Music featured the strongest audio on this track, as the tunes usually seemed clean and relatively smooth; the songs lacked depth and dynamic range, but they also displayed no distortion, so they held up better than the rest of this mix. Ultimately, the soundtrack seemed acceptable for a film of this era but nonetheless rather flawed.

The most disappointing aspect of this DVD stems from the almost-total absence of supplemental features. All we get are a theatrical trailer - dubbed into English - plus a brief demonstration of how the film's restoration cleaned up the image and a nice essay from film critic Chuck Stephens that appears in the DVD's booklet. Vadim died as this DVD was in production, and I don't know if that affected any potential extras or not. In any case, don't expect much, for you won't find it here.

One other disappointing omission comes from the DVD's lack of an English dub. Obviously one exists, since we see it in the trailer. Although the dialogue comes across extremely poorly in that ad, I still would have enjoyed the option of English or French; I'd prefer the choice of original language or a bad dub than no choice at all.

Not that I ultimately care, really, because in any language, ...And God Created Woman is a fairly bad film. Brigitte Bardot heats up the action at times, but the movie suffers from little story and weak characters. The DVD offers reasonably good picture, average sound, and almost no supplements. Bardot fans may like this piece for her stunning looks, but everyone else should skip it.

Menu: DVD Movie Guide | Archive | Top