In honor of its 50th anniversary, the French erotic drama Belle de Jour is receiving a re-release in cinemas with a brand-new 4K restoration, Indiewire reports. The film, starring Catherine Deneuve as a bored housewife who turns to prostitution to fill her days is often considered one of the sexiest movies ever created, and is a landmark title from director Luis Buñuel. In a 1999 review, Roger Ebert declared: “It is possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps the best.”
The Spanish-born Buñuel directed 35 features over the length of his career, and though Belle de Jour is often the one best remembered it’s at the expense of his other movies, most of them made in Mexico and Spain. The surrealist director came to prominence in 1929 with the frightening Un Chien Andalou, infamously remembered for a scene involving an eyeball and a razor. He worked throughout the ’30s in Spain, making musicals and comedies like 1935’s Don Quintin el amargao and Centinela, alerta! in 1937. Even when he started working in the U.S., Buñuel would return to Spanish-language cinema, predominately in Mexico, where his work throughout the period is often lumped in with the “Golden Age of Mexican Cinema.” Much of his filmic output focused on the likes of entomology and religion. The most important of his Mexican films is the classic drama centered on DF’s street kids Los Olvidados.
Belle de Jour was one of many socially aware movies to come out in the late-60s, alongside American works like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Graduate. Deneuve’s character Severine is cited as both a progressive woman in the buildup to second-wave feminism, or a critique on the independent woman depending on which critic you’re reading.
The new 4K transfer recently played at the Cannes Film Festival and arrives in French cinemas next month. It’s currently unknown whether it will jump across the pond and play in American theaters, although it’s a strong possibility.
Here’s the brand-new 50th anniversary restoration trailer.