Sunday, 17 October 2010

Cat People

Made in 1942 and directed by Jacques Tourneur, this film explores the theme of lust and forbidden love in the form of a woman who believes she has the curse of her ancestors and will turn into a panther if she kisses a man. The NYT has this rather negative view of this film: 'The strangely embarrassing predicament of a lady who finds herself possessed of mystical feline temptations, especially one to claw people to death, is the topic pursued at tedious and graphically unproductive.'

Throughout this film, there are several references to cats, such as the big cats that are caged at the zoo and several panther designs that are scattered in Irena's room and home. The cat and the woman can be seen to be the same; predatory and sexual. In my view, Irena is bonded with the panther and the predatory side of her comes out specially in the scene where Jane Randolph's character Alice Moore is in the swimming pool, and Irena is stalking her in the form of the panther. Even though all the audience sees is shadows on the walls and the rumbling growl of the panther, it is automatically assumed that it is Irena as the audience knows of her connection to the panther and that Alice is seeing Irena's husband. A quote from IMDB had this to say about this particular scene: 'Tourneur works with his camera the way a painter does with shadow and light to create strange dreamy atmospheres The pièces de résistance are the scene in the swimming -pool that creates a feeling of terror without using the tricks of the trade,and the scene when Oliver and Alice are in the flat,hearing roaring.'

The editing in this film helps to build the tension, as it cuts from character to character quite quickly, especially in the scene where Alice and Irena's husband are locking up, and the sound of the panther can be heard along with shadows on the wall; much like the swimming pool scene. The panther is finally revealed approaching them, but turns when Alice yells at it and claiming it to be Irena. Film4 had this review on this film: 'Has the transformation happened? Or is it all in her mind? Producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur's magical genre-bending masterpiece still manages to dazzle you with its audacity.'

Overall, i found this film to be strangely intriguing but found the acting to be slightly unbelievable and overacted.

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