Calendar Search
Event Calendar

Visit Home Event Calendar Event Information

The Belly of Paris: Flaubert, Maupassant, and Zola on Film (film series)

Date: Thursday–Saturday, June 14–16, 2007
Time: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 4:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Admission: Free; reservations required.

Explore gritty, imaginative, and moving films inspired by the words of the three greatest naturalist writers of 19th-century France—Gustave Flaubert, Émile Zola, and Guy de Maupassant. From a painter's muse to a clubfooted laundry girl, the protagonists of these films dream of fashion and youth, of men of the highest ideal, and of Paris, though their life is provincial.

The series is presented in partnership with the UCLA Film and Television Archive and complements the exhibition Manet's Bar at the Folies-Berère, on view June 5–September 9, 2007, at the Getty Center.

Exclusively offered on Friday and Saturday evening from 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Be sure to participate in a delightful wine tasting taking place before the film screening. Sample a selection of exquisite French wines and enjoy light hors d'oeuvres on the terrace outside of the auditorium; $12 per person. Learn more about this wine-tasting event.

Gervaise: Thursday, June 14

Le Plaisir: Friday, June 15

Madame Bovary: Saturday, June 16

Nana: Saturday, June 16

Still from Madame Bovary


Thursday, June 14, 7:30 p.m.
based on the novel L'Assommoir by Émile Zola
(1956, René Clément, 114 min., in French with English subtitles)

Gervaise chronicles the struggles of a clubfooted laundry girl, indelibly played by German star Maria Schell, determined to improve her lot through hard work and sheer force of will. Armand Mestral plays the opportunistic lover who callously deserts her; François Périer is the initially good-hearted husband whose kindness curdles into disappointment, jealousy, and chronic alcoholism.

Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, the foremost screenwriters of the classic French cinema's "tradition of quality," shrewdly condensed Zola's sprawling epic of working-class life into a focused dramatic character study. Director René Clément surrounds the main story line with sensuous details that vividly evoke the teeming urban reality of mid-19th-century Paris.

Still from Gervaise

Back to Top

Le Plaisir

Friday, June 15, 7:30 p.m.
based on stories by Guy de Maupassant
(1952, Max Ophüls, 93 min., in French with English subtitles)

In this haunting ode to human desperation, full of frank sexuality and passion, director Max Ophüls combines beautiful cinematography with an empathetic view of women's roles to soften the nihilism of writer Guy de Maupassant.

The first tale, "Le Masque," tells of an aged male reveler on a dance floor who is compelled to act out a fantasy of youth. The second tale, "Le Modèle," questions beauty, attraction, and devotion, as a painter falls hard for a model, then tires of her with near tragic results. The third, and longest, vignette finds the local brothel closing for a day so that the prostitutes, in a moment of hard-won freedom, may attend the communion of the Madam's niece. The film explores how tempting pleasure can be, and how unrealistic.

Learn more about the wine tasting taking place before the screening.

Still from Le Plaisir

Back to Top

Madame Bovary

Saturday, June 16, 4:00 p.m.
based on the novel by Gustave Flaubert
(1949, Vincente Minnelli, 115 min., in English)

Writer Gustave Flaubert and painter Édouard Manet are the two 19th-century fathers of modernism. Manet's work scandalized French society, and Flaubert's "immoral" Madame Bovary brought him to trial in 1857. Flaubert's defense rested on his aesthetic choice: his dedication to realism and to the nonjudgmental representation of life. In Minnelli's film, the testimony of Flaubert himself, played by James Mason, bookends the narrative. Emma Bovary's adulterous actions as a frustrated petit-bourgeois housewife are revealed to be the result not of willful sinning, but of false expectations created by romantic illusions.

Minnelli's cinematic genius and the artificial opulence of MGM's costumes and furnishings make this perhaps the best of the many film versions of the novel.

Still from Madame Bovary

Back to Top


Saturday, June 16, 7:30 p.m.
based on the novel L'Assommoir by Émile Zola
(1926, Jean Renoir, 135 min., silent with French intertitles. Presented with simultaneous English translation and live accompaniment by pianist Michael Mortilla.)

Nana is a classic French silent that director Jean Renoir called "my first film worth talking about." Renoir's then-wife Catherine Hessling dominates the screen as Nana, the vivacious actress-turned-courtesan whose irresistible sexuality brings men willingly to their knees. The esteemed German actor Werner Krauss costars as Muffat, the smitten sugar daddy who bankrolls Nana's lavish lifestyle but receives only humiliation and shame in return.

The film features sumptuous sets and costumes and reflects Renoir's meticulous concern for period authenticity and psychological nuance.

Learn more about the wine tasting taking place before the screening.

Still from Nana

Back to Top

How to Get Here
The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California, approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for maps and driving directions.

Images courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Text adapted from program notes by Andrea Alsberg and Jesse Zigelstein of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.