masters of cinema
La Gueule ouverte [The Mouth Agape]

La Gueule ouverte [The Mouth Agape]

Maurice Pialat ,

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World Cinema

Few filmmakers could rival Maurice Pialat’s facility for transforming autobiographical material into the stuff of Art, and his third feature-film, La Gueule ouverte [The Mouth Agape / The Slack-Jawed Mug], stands as one of the director’s most intensely personal — and most lacerating — works. It is a film about illness: a condition of the body, and a name for the capacity to injure the ones who love us most.

Monique Mélinand (a star of several of Raúl Ruíz’s ’90s works, and of Jacques Rivette’s Jeanne la pucelle) portrays a woman in the late stages of terminal illness. She — and her prone body — become the locus around which gather her son Philippe (Truffaut-veteran Philippe Léotard), his wife Nathalie (French screen icon Nathalie Baye, in one of her earliest roles), and Monique’s husband Roger (Hubert Deschamps, of Pialat’s early short Janine, and Louis Malle’s Zazie dans le métro). In short order, Monique recedes into the background of Philippe’s and Roger’s network of respective adulteries. But as the final, crushingly eloquent succession of shots starts to unreel, we are once more reminded that, in the work of Maurice Pialat, that which seems absent ultimately makes its presence felt with terrible force.

The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Maurice Pialat’s astonishing feature-length masterwork La Gueule ouverte, accompanied by nine Pialat shorts — three narrative works from the earliest part of the director’s career, and the six poetic essay-documentaries he shot in Turkey in the early ’60s — which alone total over two hours in length.

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2 Discs

  • Gorgeous new anamorphic transfer of the film in its original aspect ratio
  • New and improved English subtitle translations
  • Three early short-films by Maurice Pialat: — Drôles de bobines [Funny Reels] – 1957, 17 minutes. — L’Ombre familière [The Familiar Shadow] – 1958, 24 minutes. — Janine – 1961, 17 minutes.
  • The six short 1964 essay-documentaries by Maurice Pialat in: Bosphore [Bosporus] – 14 mins. Byzance [Byzantium] – 12 mins. La Corne d’or [The Golden Horn] – 12 mins. Istanbul – 13 mins. Maître Galip [Master Galip] – 11 mins. Pehlivan – 12 mins
  • 12-minute 2004 interview with Pialat’s ex-wife and frequent collaborator, Micheline Pialat, conducted by former Cahiers du cinéma editor-in-chief, and current director of the Cinémathèque Française, Serge Toubiana
  • 8-minute 2004 interview with actress Nathalie Baye
  • 11 minutes of footage from the shoot of La Gueule ouverte, featuring commentary recorded in 2005 by actor Jean-François Balmer
  • 16-minute 2004 interview with cinematographer Willy Kurant discussing his work with Pialat on the Turkish short-films
  • 14-minute 1987 interview with Pialat about the Cinémathèque Française’s role in his film education
  • 10-minute excerpt from a 2002 masterclass with Pialat, discussing the film Maître Galip
  • Original theatrical trailer for La Gueule ouverte, along with trailers for six other Maurice Pialat films released by The Masters of Cinema Series
  • 32-page booklet containing a new essay by critic Adrian Martin, and newly translated interviews with Maurice Pialat


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