Louis Malle’s Black Moon (1975)

On Monday I finally got hooked up with Cable TV after a few years without it it due to the high cost and my limited budget. It’s been well worth it thanks to all the channels I can now get, especially TCM, which is currently hosting a fabulous Louis Malle birthday bash and showcasing a lot of his films.

Last night I watched Murmur of the Heart, which is one of my favorite Malle movies, along with the director’s impressive Black Moon. Black Moon is a beautiful experimental film that I had never seen before and I really enjoyed it. It was categorized as a horror movie on TCM but I personally thought it was more of an adult dark fantasy that defies easy categorization.

Black Moon follows the misadventures of a pretty young girl named Lily (Cathryn Harrison) who is caught up in a violent civil war between men and women, which seems to take place in a dystopian future. She finds herself at a mysterious house that belongs to a strange old woman and a beautiful sister and brother played by Alexandra Stewart and the wonderful Joe Dallesandro. The film has no clear narrative structure and Malle uses his own kind of dream logic to tell this mesmerizing tale. As I mentioned way back in February, I love the way that Malle explores the complex and often conflicting emotions of young people in his films and Black Moon is no exception. Malle delves deep into Lily’s subconscious without reservation and we’re offered an intimate look at the inner workings of her young mind. As the poster suggests, the film plays out like a somewhat more adult version of Louis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland where talking unicorns appear and flowers weep when they are stepped on. Cathryn Harrison is very good as Lily and as usual it was impossible to take my eyes off of Joe Dallesandro every time he appeared on screen. Dallesandro really looks amazing in Black Moon and I only wish he got a little more to do in the film.

Black Moon was shot at Louis Malle’s French estate and the grounds are rural and wild but also extremely lush and lovely. There’s an intimacy to the film and an almost claustrophobic feel at times, which is probably somewhat due to Malle’s closeness with the location. It’s a really fascinating movie from one of France’s greatest filmmakers and it is a shame that Black Moon is currently only available on PAL Region-2 DVD at the moment.

Recommended Links:
– A brief piece about Black Moon at Moon in the Gutter with a clip from the film.
– You can also find a great piece about Joe Dallesandro at Moon in the Gutter which was just posted today.
– A nice write-up about Black Moon by Jeff Stafford at the TCM site.

9 thoughts on “Louis Malle’s Black Moon (1975)

  1. AR says:

    TCM is great. I used to try and catch their silent films on Sunday nights (do they still do that?) and they introduced me to the work of Bergman and Kurosawa. I’m so bummed my parents’ digital cable doesn’t carry it.

  2. Andrew Monroe says:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of TCM! Honestly, many months it`s the sole reason I keep the cable. They run many films that have yet to hit dvd (and probably never will in some cases), particularly of late with some stuff from the Columbia library. For a noir head like myself this is the stuff dreams are made of…TCM is also the reason I bought a dvd recorder. They`ve also been running a lot of those great B mystery series like The Lone Wolf, Boston Blackie, Crime Doctor, etc. November is “Series Month” and they`ll be rerunning many of these, as well as some others – including a MAN FROM UNCLE day(11/6), here`s a couple of the 8(!) films : THE SPY IN THE GREEN HAT and HOW TO STEAL THE WORLD.

    AR – Yes, they do still have Silent Sundays, after midnight.

  3. Jeremy says:

    Hey Kimberly,
    Thanks so much for the links. I appreciate it. I am glad you got your cable hooked up, and what a wonderful double feature you had to kick it off.
    I am so glad to hear you enjoyed BLACK MOON, as i know it leaves some very cold. I love the film and was thrilled TCM played it and hopefully exposed some more people to it.
    I agree that I wish Joe was in it more…I love Cathryn Harris…Tim Lucas described her as ‘the feral little sister of Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac” which I thought was pretty dead on. I also get a little Rainbeaux Smith vibe from her, which I love…
    The ALICE IN WONDERLAND comparison is pretty perfect. Frankly I have been wanting to write more on this film but am a bit baffled as to how to do it…it really needs to be seen.
    Great post and thanks again for the links…

  4. cinebeats says:

    AR – It’s amazing how much TCM has improved! I last had access to Cable TV in the early 90s and it was nowhere near as good as it is now. I was really surprised that they showed Murmur of the Heart and Black Moon totally uncut with nudity and very adult themes intact. I was also happy to see that some of the old hosts from AMC are now at TCM. AMC is so awful now in comparison. I did notice that TCM plays silent films, which pretty amazing!

    Andrew – Thanks for the feedback. I’m really looking forward to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.! I should also really invest in a DVD recorder myself. My VCR is dying and it’s pretty useless at the moment. I wish I had been able to record Black Moon. I recently got a new TV as well since my old tube TV died. Slowly but surely I’m stepping into the future!

    Jeremy – You’re more than welcome! I really thought Black Moon was terrific. Like yourself, I tend to enjoy more unusual films that would probably leave a lot of people shaking their heads. It’s a shame that the movie isn’t available on DVD in the U.S. yet.

  5. Keith says:

    Hey Kimberly. Glad you finally got your cable hooked up. I don’t know what I would do without mine. I love TCM. They show such great films that I probably would never seen otherwise. Never really seen any Louis Malle films before. I am a big fan of Joe though. I’ll have to check Black Moon out at some point. Have a great weekend. Have fun with cable tv.

  6. Norvan Black Moon says:

    I’m no movie star,,but I have inherited this name from my great great great grandfather,Chief Black Moon..A Lakota sioux,Medicine man and leader,from,the Dakota’s,it’s history is great and shouldn’t be abused,, sorry about the mix up,I really wish it was original for you all.
    lotsa love from, the real Black Moon.and our Families of Black Moon’s

  7. cinebeats says:

    Norvan – You seem a little confused. We’re simply discussing a movie called Black Moon that has nothing to do with Chief Black Moon as far as I know. It’s a surreal fantasy and doesn’t abuse any history, cultures or people. I highly suggest reading up more on the film at the TCM website listed above.

  8. Christian Black Moon says:

    fogive my farther,but i belive his just going around and putting up that same thing to any thing with the name black moon…like the rap band….sorry about the mistake….

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