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The Mother and the Whore
(La maman et la putain)

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean Eustache.
With Jean-Pierre Léaud, Bernadette Lafont, Françoise Lebrun.
France, 1973, 35mm, black & white, 215 min.
French with English subtitles.
Print source: HFA

Viewed by many as the most monumental achievement of post-New Wave French filmmaking, not only because of its more than three-and-a-half hour length but by virtue of its lacerating, confessional portrait of a generation – people who in director Jean Eustache’s words "were desperate because life was passing them by...[and who] could find no explanation for their predicament" – The Mother and the Whore remains a touchstone of contemporary cinema. An anti-epic on the war between the sexes in 1970s Paris, the film is made up almost entirely of monologues and conversations among the inhabitants of an unstable ménage à trois. This massive slice of life derives much of its power from Lhomme’s understated, fly-on-the-wall cinematography, which grounds even the most self-indulgent or self-destructive behavior by the film’s characters in an undeniably recognizable reality.

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Lhomme with a Movie Camera

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Of Flesh, of Spirit: The Cinema of Jean Eustache

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Serge Daney:
L’Homme cinéma

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Devour the Land: Cinema, landscape, history.