(1956)4Craig ButlerIt's easy enough to say that ...And God Created Woman is much more important for its historical significance than for its actual quality as a film, and that's true to an extent. Woman's immense popularity, due to its willingness to directly embrace an exploration of sex as well as its willingness to show a degree of nudity that was remarkably daring for its day, demonstrated that audiences were willing to view subject matter that was considered too racy for the average moviegoer. This had both positive (freedom to explore, especially for the French filmmakers of the time) and negative (freedom to exploit) consequences, but its impact is undeniable. It's also true that Woman is not a great work of art, not with a story that is ultimately rather thin, some painful dialogue, and an attitude toward its characters and their sexuality that is unclear and inconsistent. Yet Woman is still fascinating, due in no small part to the presence of Brigitte Bardot in the role that made her an international star and sex symbol. She's not demonstrating great acting here, although her performance is actually good and much better than necessary, and her legendary mambo scene at the climax is nothing short of sensational. But acting aside, Bardot's presence, sensuality and persona simply enthrall; it is in some ways screen acting at its most elemental. Director Roger Vadim and cinematographer Armand Thirard have also given Woman a stunning visual appeal. Vadim's work always is more impressive for what it says by the way it looks than for what it says with its words, and this is especially true here. Woman has many flaws, including an ultimately reactionary take on sexual liberation, but it is on its own terms a fascinating movie.
This Roger Vadim production was released in the US as ...And God Created Woman. Vadim's then-wife Brigitte Bardot plays the central character, a curvaceous nymphet with a voracious sexual appetite. In fact, it isn't what Bardot does in bed but what she might do that drives the three principal male characters (Curd Jurgens, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Christian Marquand) into an erotic frenzy. Most available prints of ...And God Created Woman have been heavily edited to conform with the prevailing censorial standards of 1957. Vadim remade his own film in 1987.