Suspense and surveillance: <i>Les Diaboliques</i> and <i>Les Espions</i>

Christopher Lloyd

in Henri-Georges Clouzot

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780719070143
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701065 | DOI:
Suspense and surveillance: Les Diaboliques and Les Espions

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This chapter deals with suspense and surveillance in Les Diaboliques and Les Espions. Les Diaboliques was released in January 1955 and proved to be Clouzot's most commercially successful film but it's critical reception was mixed. While its combination of ingenious plot twists, moments of horror and black humour captivated cinema audiences, for many reviewers such features were taken as evidence that Clouzot's aspirations were cynically limited to meretricious manipulation of spectators' emotions in the cause of low-brow entertainment. Les Espions, released in October 1957, makes far less effort to engage or beguile the spectator. Although this film, like Les Diaboliques, is set in a run-down institution on the outskirts of Paris, and peopled by enigmatic and duplicitous characters that plot each other's downfall, its narrative and characterisation are deliberately disrupted and elliptical. Clouzot's intention was not to construct a pleasing puzzle but to convey an atmosphere of alienation and absurdist uncertainty.

Keywords: suspense; surveillance; Les Diaboliques; Les Espions; low-brow entertainment

Chapter.  10467 words. 

Subjects: Film

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