our men, a judge, a master chief, a TV personality, and an airplane pilot, decide to hole up for the weekend in a
Paris estate belonging to one of them, and eat themselves to death. It becomes
obvious to them after the first night that they will need a little female
companionship, so they import a few whores. When some school kids ask to see a
famous tree on the grounds, they also meet their teacher (Andrea Ferreol), and
invite her to dinner. She accepts, and ends up staying for the duration. The
prostitutes eat themselves sick, get bored, and leave. Andrea ends up sleeping
in a big bed with all of the men, and ultimately decides to take care of all
of them until they accomplish their goal or give up. The men all drop, one
after another, after noisy and messy intestinal problems. The airplane pilot is the randiest of the bunch, and the first to go. (He
freezes to death in the front seat of a Bugatti in a snow storm.)
La Grande Bouffe is probably the most famous film directed by the arty,
eccentric Marco Ferreri, having earned that distinction with the controversy
it generated at Cannes, where it
won the FIPRESCI Prize, and was nominated for a Golden Palm. Critics were sharply divided on the film's
merits. Those who find it disgusting and without merit have ample reason for that
view. The story is, quite honestly, rather gross, and the script gives none of the men
any motivation to commit suicide, so it seems incongruous and incredible that 4
successful people -- all friends -- should decide to eat themselves to death
On the other hand, those who praise the film have justification as well.
One theory is that this film symbolizes the demise of one type of French
masculine figure, and that the film is highly irreverent and disrespectful of
French society and institutions.
The literary allusions are obscure and seem to be lost in the translation.
Perhaps they make it an intelligent film for those who speak French, but my take was somewhat different. It is definitely bathroom humor,
but with an all-star cast, including Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli,
Philippe Noiret and Ugo Tognazzi. Several points make the film worthy, in my
opinion. The acting is flawless, the set is intricate and the images will be
with me for a long time. The best element is Andrea, a fascinating character
who made the film for me. She has appetites, both sexual and gastronomic, that
far surpass any of the men, but is not self-destructive. She is the only one
of the bunch that is giving by nature. The hookers and the men are all
self-serving. Maybe the message is that you have to give great pleasure to
experience great pleasure.
It is now available from RLDVDs.com on a Widescreen all region PAL. It is
in the original French, with optional English subtitles, and includes a 45
minute short subject in English about the director. Previous versions were 4/3
ratio, and are now out of print and expensive when you can find them.
Andrea Ferreol shows everything, as does Solange Blondeau as one of the
hookers. Monique Chaumette, as another hooker, shows breasts, wearing only a
G-string. The older collages are includes to demonstrate the improved
quality of the new source material from rldvds.com.