This clip is from Chantal Ackerman's 1976 feminist film Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. It's an amazing, three hour domestic odyssey that follows two days in the life of a Belgian single mother. Her activities are recorded in real time--we may watch her peel potatoes for ten minutes or sit with her while she has her daily coffee. I'll admit that when I went to see a beautiful restored print of the film at the Dryden Theatre I anticipated being bored out of my mind, but went out of a sense of feminist duty. In fact, I wasn't bored at all. I was enthralled. In this restrained, intense and brilliant portrait, we watch as the clockwork precision of Dielman's quotidian life--her obsessive, almost robotic, adherence to order and her set schedule of daily events--scatters and devolves slowly and subtly towards an inevitable climax.
Jeanne Dielman is not available on DVD in the US, but it's often screened at colleges and universities and may be available in some university libraries. I recommend seeing it on the big screen, if possible. If you ever notice that it's showing somewhere nearby, go. It's amazing:
Has anyone else seen this film? What did you think?
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