7.6/10
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37 user 35 critic

The Butcher (1970)

Le boucher (original title)
An unlikely friendship between a dour, working class butcher and a repressed schoolteacher coincides with a grisly series of Ripper-type murders in a provincial French town.

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Antonio Passalia ...
Angelo
Pascal Ferone ...
Père Cahrpy / Uncle Cahrpy
Mario Beccara ...
Léon Hamel
William Guérault ...
Charles
Roger Rudel ...
Commissaire Grumbach / Inspector Grumbach
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Storyline

Butcher Popaul meets schoolteacher Helene at a wedding in a small rural French village. They become friends. But girls are murdered in the area and Helene finds at the scene the lighter she gave Popaul... Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

19 December 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El carnicero  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

When the blood from a murder victim drips down onto a girl from a cliff above, the hand shown dripping the blood looks fake. See more »

Quotes

Popaul: If you never make love, you go crazy.
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Connections

Referenced in Sneak Previews: The Best Films of the '70s (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

Plaisir D'Amour
Music by Johann Martini (uncredited)
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User Reviews

 
A subtle mystery.
3 April 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Amongst the guests at a wedding are a Helene, a lonely teacher, played by Stephane Audran, and an ex-army butcher (Jean Yanne). Against their differences, the two develop a friendship. However, in the town there lurks a serial killer, and that killer may or may not be the butcher himself. Plagued with feelings of doubt and fear, Helene finds herself constantly at tenterhooks regarding her new friend (of sorts), and surprises and shocks are placed intricately until the very last frames.

At 90 minutes, this mystery feels longer than it is, and that may be due to some of the stylistic techniques adapted by director Chabrol, such as the languid and very sparse use of camera movement, and shots of the bells to contribute to a sense of time. Content-wise, he borrows from Hitchcock, using themes of shared secrets, obsession and moral ambiguity. These themes are used well, creating appropriate amounts of suspense and anticipation in the viewer, and Chabrol plays with his audience deftly, placing surprises and non-surprises in sequence so that we are every bit as nervy as Audran. He is less concerned with explaining the motives for the killings than just presenting them, and for that, and chilling atmosphere of indifference is created throughout the film.

The two leads are strong in their performances, and the slow, fragile romance between them is as credible as it is integral to the plot. In particular, Stephane Audran shines, as a woman who begins, poised, content and assured, only to finish ruffled and perhaps, as the ending shot shows, a little ruined by the events that she has witnessed. The film is carried along by an eerie, quasi-apocalyptic score by Pierre Janse and Domonique Zardi, which haunts long after the film has ended.

If the ending does feel like somewhat of a copout, that may because we as the audience have viewed one plot twist too many, and the frequency and slightness at which each twist is revealed diminishes its impact somewhat. But for the most part, this is good film-making; quite unpretentious, coolly aloof, and the subtle delivery only works to its advantage.

B+


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