Sois belle et tais-toi [Be Pretty and Shut Up] (1981)

Sois belle et tais-toi
Director: Delphine Seyrig
“Cast”: Jenny Agutter, Juliet Berto, Ellen Burstyn, Candy Clark, Patti D’Arbanville, Marie Dubois, Louise Fletcher, Jane Fonda, Luce Guilbeault, Shirley MacLaine, Millie Perkins, Maria Schneider, Barbara Steele, Susan Tyrrell, Viva, Anne Wiazemsky, Cindy Williams
Seen on: 12.4.2018

Delphine Seyrig interviews actresses about their work and the movie industry, touching on casual bias as well as outright sexism all of them encounter pretty much every day, shedding light on the struggles women face when they just want to act.

Be Pretty and Shut Up is a fascinating documentary with very interesting women and interviews, but it’s also incredibly frustrating to see that we still have the same discussions even 40 years later.

The film is really fascinating in more than one way. On the one hand it’s interesting to see how few of these actresses – who were all pretty successful at the time when the film was made – are still household names today. I don’t think that men are forgotten quite as quickly as women are, and women are forgotten even quicker when they’re uncomfortable. I would be very much interested in a Sois belle et tais-toi! Redux where the same people are interviewed again and where we see what happened in the meantime.

On the other hand it’s, of course, the content of the film that is noteworthy. We get a film full of smart, opinionated (and sometimes a little strange) women who have things to say and you better listen.

Speaking of listening, unfortunately that part was a little hard sometimes. The copy that was shown at the cinema is obviously in a pitiful state. Both the image and the sound, the latter even more so, really suck and sometimes it was hard to understand what everybody was saying. I hope that better copies still exist and/or that restaurators are on the case.

The editing of the film could have been a little tighter – some stories became a little rambling. And Seyrig was obivously not very trained in conducting interviews – her questions were a little leading at times or difficult to answer – but none of that makes the film any less essential. It really should be required watching for everyone working in/with films.

Summarizing: very cool.

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