Exploring Brigitte Bardot's controversial 1956 film "And God Created Woman"

Image
Brigitte Bardot in Italy in 1958 © Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche via Getty Images, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Brigitte Bardot in Italy in 1958 © Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche via Getty Images, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Brigitte Bardot in Italy in 1958 © Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche via Getty Images, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In the history of cinema, there are some films that define an era, a genre or a star. For French actress Brigitte Bardot, that film was And God Created Woman...

 

...[Click "Lire la suite" to read more]

Copyright for the main image of this article:

Brigitte Bardot in Italy in 1958 © Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche via Getty Images, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In the history of cinema, there are some films that define an era, a genre or a star. For French actress Brigitte Bardot, that film was And God Created Woman, a movie that catapulted her to international fame and made her an icon of cinema, fashion and popular culture. In this article, we'll explore the story behind the making of And God Created Woman, the impact it had on Bardot's career and the controversy it stirred among audiences and critics alike.

- Watch the best of French Cinema on TV5MONDE -

France and the Lumière brothers not only invented cinema, but they also perfected it, from Godard to Binoche, from Louis de Funès to Claire Denis. And of course, there's Brigitte Bardot, France's definitive icon of the 60s and 70s. If you're into French cinema, then you've only got one thing to do, tune in TV5MONDE USA. It's the place for all things French, new movies or classics, unknown gems and box-office hits alike. You can watch right now on the streaming platform TV5MONDEplus the classic comedy with Brigitte Bardot Come Dance with me (Voulez-vous danser avec moi) among many other classics. Com March, you will also be able to stream two of her famous films with the French Marylin Monroe: La Parisienne and Mademesoille Striptease. With the streaming platform comes TV5MONDE USA a 24-hour French network that airs over 150 French films plus many programs around French style, French gastronomy and French art-de-vivre. Finally, you'll also get free access to the on-demand channel TV5MONDE French Cinema on Demand which curates 15 French movies monthly around a theme, an actor or a director. 

Learn more about TV5MONDE

Who was the star of And God Created Woman?

Brigitte Bardot was the star of And God Created Woman, a 1956 French film directed by Roger Vadim. Bardot played the role of Juliette Hardy, a voluptuous and free-spirited teenager who lives in a small fishing village on the French Riviera. Bardot's portrayal of Juliette was a breakthrough in her career, as it showcased her natural beauty, uninhibited sexuality and raw talent as an actress. Bardot's performance in the film would not only make her a household name in France, but also a global sensation that would change the course of her life and career.

Who was Brigitte Bardot before the movie?

Before And God Created Woman, Brigitte Bardot was already a rising star in French cinema but not yet an icon. Born in 1934 in Paris, Bardot grew up in a family of bourgeois intellectuals, with a passion for music, dance and acting. She made her film debut in 1952, at the age of 18, in the comedy Le Trou Normand. For the next few years, Bardot would appear in several films, mostly in small roles, but also in a few leading roles, such as "The Light Across the Street" and "The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful".

However, it was her role in "And God Created Woman" that would change everything for Bardot. She became an instant sensation, admired and desired by audiences everywhere for her beauty, charm and sex appeal. Bardot's image was soon emulated by millions of women around the world, who wanted to adopt her fashion style, her hairstyle and her attitude. Bardot was not just a movie star, she was a cultural phenomenon that embodied the spirit of the 1960s and the liberation of women in Western society.

Where was And God Created Woman filmed?

And God Created Woman was filmed in a Saint-Tropez, on the French Riviera, before the city became known for being the home of the rich and famous and place to party, like the Hamptons or Ibiza. This was a deliberate choice by director Roger Vadim, who was inspired by the natural beauty, the Mediterranean light and the bohemian lifestyle of the place. Vadim had already shot a few films there, but "And God Created Woman" would be his most successful and influential one.

Vadim had a personal connection to Saint-Tropez, as he had lived there for some time with his wife... actress Brigitte Bardot. Vadim and Bardot met in 1950, when she was just 16 and he was 22. They started a passionate affair that lasted for several years, and Vadim soon became Bardot's mentor, manager and lover. He saw in her the perfect embodiment of his vision of a new kind of female character in cinema: young, sensual, rebellious and fearless. Vadim wrote the screenplay of And God Created Woman with Bardot in mind, and convinced her to take the role of Juliette.

How old is Juliette in And God Created Woman?

In And God Created Woman, Juliette is portrayed as a 18-year-old girl, full of energy, passion and curiosity. She lives with her older sister and brother-in-law, who are worried about her wild behavior and her promiscuity. Juliette loves to dance, to sunbathe, to flirt and to seduce men. She has a reputation as a femme fatale, a reputation that she enjoys and cultivates. Juliette's life changes when she meets Antoine Tardieu, an older businessman who falls in love with her and wants to marry her. Juliette is torn between her attraction to Antoine and her desire for freedom and adventure.

The plot of And God Created Woman was controversial at the time, as it portrayed a young woman who defied traditional morality and challenged patriarchal norms. The film was accused of promoting immorality, promiscuity and amorality, and was censored or banned in some countries. However, for many viewers, especially young women, the film was a breath of fresh air, a celebration of female empowerment and sexual liberation.

When was And God Created Woman released?

And God Created Woman was released in France on November 28, 1956. The film was an instant success, both commercially and critically, and became one of the most popular and influential films of the 1950s. Some people hailed the film as a masterpiece of erotic cinema, a daring and innovative work that pushed the boundaries of morality and art. They praised Bardot's performance as revolutionary, and Vadim's direction as groundbreaking. They also appreciated the film's soundtrack, which featured the hit song "Le Soleil de Ma Vie" by composer Georges Auric.

Others, however, condemned the film as vulgar, immoral and degrading to women. They accused it of promoting promiscuity, nudity and sexual perversion, and of undermining traditional values and morality. They also criticized Bardot's character as shallow and amoral, and accused Vadim of exploiting her for his own erotic fantasies.

The film was banned or censored in many countries, including the United States, where it was released in a heavily edited version. Despite the controversy, And God Created Woman marked a turning point in the history of French cinema, and the beginning of Brigitte Bardot's international stardom. The film inspired many imitations and hommages, and made Saint-Tropez a popular tourist destination. It also established Bardot as an icon of feminine beauty, sensuality and freedom, and paved the way for her to become one of the most beloved and influential actresses of her generation.

Stream Brigitte Bardot's movies and more on TV5MONDEplus