Black Venus (2010) Poster

(2010)

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8/10
A Difficult True Story to Tell Done Well
hoxjennifer8 May 2014
This film is NOT for the faint of heart. Nothing is censored, just the bare naked (literally) truth. Black Venus tells the true story of Sarah (Baptized name) Baartman, a South African woman of Khoisan descent who in the early 19th century was led on false pretenses of fame and fortune to England only to be exploited for her body.

I watched this film with a basic understanding of Sarah's biography. With this in mind, I am a little surprised that the film didn't get a higher rating. Yes, it is difficult to watch. Yes, it shows exploitation and abuse at its finest (if that's even the correct word to use here). Yes, there is shocking and pornographic scenes that are not suitable for the faint of heart. Yes, you will be disgusted.

But you should be. This is a very accurate portrayal of what happened to the true "Venus of Hottentot." She was exploited for her body, people paid to touch her buttocks and her genitalia was a matter of scientific intrigue. This movie is not a pleasant watch, but the topic itself is not a pleasant truth. This is a dark side of history that is difficult to explore, and the director and the main actress do a wonderful job of portraying it as such.

History buffs, this film is for you - especially if you are interested in African/Women's history. For the faint of heart, avoid this film - and for the curious, make sure you know fully well what you're getting into.
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7/10
A story to be told but a shocking one!!!
auberus2 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
With "Vénus noire"Abdellatif Kechiche tells the story of Sarah Baartman, an African born from the Khoisan Tribe who was a slave of a Dutch farmer. She went with the brother of her slave owner on an Exhibition, a "Freak" Tour in England with the promise of a wealthy future. Then Sarah Baartman was sold to a Frenchman, who took her to his country. An animal trainer, Réaux, exhibited her under more pressured conditions for fifteen months. Overall Sarah Baartman was exhibited around Britain and France from 1810 to 1815, entertaining people by exposing her nude buttocks and her highly unusual bodily features. She had large buttocks and the elongated labia of some Khoisan women. Towards the end of her life she became the subject of several scientific paintings at the Jardin du Roi, where she was examined in March 1815 by George Cuvier, head keeper of the menagerie at the musée national d'Histoire naturelle. Seek and forgotten by the Parisians, she began to drink heavily and supported herself with prostitution in brothel and then in the streets. She died of an undetermined inflammatory ailment on December 29, 1815. Even after her Death her body continued to be exploited by others and her skeleton, preserved genitals and brain were placed on display in Paris' musée de l'Homme until 1974. In 1994 President Nelson Mandela formally requested that France return the remains and it's only in 2002, May the 6th that her remains were repatriated to her homeland and were buried on August 9 of the same year.

Obviously this dramatic and terrible story is not for everyone and I strongly suggest the most emotionally fragile people among us to read about the Sarah Baartman's story instead of watching Abdellatif Kechiche's film. "Vénus noire" remains an interesting film as Sarah Baartman's story is to be told so that we understand how Difference, the fear of it, the non understanding of it can trigger the most inhuman sentiment, which lies in the darkest place of our soul in one word: Racism. However in 2 hours and 40 minutes, Abdellatif Kechiche abuses the audience with too many despicable scenes, too many scenes of dehumanization and degradation. So many that you find yourself in a overdose state. At some point I wanted to leave the Theater. I didn't pay to "look" but Abdellatif Kechiche places the audience in a voyeurism sit that makes you so uncomfortable your eyes flee the screen searching for the blackness of the Theater room. Even if there is a reason for us to be gradually placed within different environments so we understand that racism isn't bound to a Country or a social class it is still very tough to keep absorbing shocking images on a continuous basis. We are transported from the vulgar and popular crowd of London to the vicious and decadent Bourgeoisie of Paris and eventually to a so called scientific experiment. One can easily draw the conclusion that whatever form of Racism we are confronted to, none of them is humanly or intellectually acceptable. In fact all of them are profoundly revolting.

Beside its heavy content and shocking scenes that for sure will polarize the audience, the film is also served with an outstanding cast. The main actress Yahima Torres is very convincing in a very difficult role. But all actors (Andre Jacobs, Olivier Gourmet) display skills in their respective interpretation, skills that trigger emotions, we hate, we curse, we're ashamed, we're shocked and we're upset during 2h40 of cinematic maelstrom.
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8/10
Venus = Christ?
Subject589 November 2010
Was this film 3 hours long or fourteen? Kechiche takes us across borders (Africa / Europe, Dead / Living, Savage / Civilized) in a movie that has the gravitas and sensual weight of a kind of stations of the cross. The "Venus" is our Christ, suffering for and as the direct result of our sins, chief among those the blindness we call racism. Potently, even explosively mixed with virulent sexism, racism shapes the ever more horrible experience of the film's subject, as she is reduced (figuratively and then literally) to an object. The film is gorgeous, infinitely wise about the costs of being marked (trapped in the legibly different body), smart about the role that money plays in the ongoing betrayal (if Judas saw this film he'd really feel rooked: the point is not to sell out Christ, the point is how many times you can--for an increasing price--take trust to market), and worth every minute of horrified attention. Then--you ask-- why an "8"? Of course we are (as the film is eager to point out), as spectators, aligned with all those who want to look at this...complicated site of excitements--but we are also (in tight close-up for the tears that always start in Yahima Torres' left eye) vaguely miserable with her (growling at the end of a chain is okay, being touched is--at first--not) and then...nowhere. Who was she? What did she (aside from bright red leather gloves and a tres joli hat) want? There's something about this film, in other words, that seems just about as hard and cold and stiff as the plaster cast of the Hottentot, which seems always just on the verge of coming to life.
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7/10
Extraordinary Film about an Extraordinary Woman
mrcibubur2 January 2013
I finally watched this movie earlier today with a sorrowful heart after first hearing about it a couple of years ago. hard to get it here in Indonesia on DVD, finally got it on two split You Tube downloads.

Yes this is not a film for the faint hearted, it is extremely graphic and harsh in its direction to say the least and certainly long at 2 hours 40 minutes (comparable with the Hobbit which I saw on new Years Eve).

The film is an artistic portrayal of a dignified South African tribal woman who is abused and misled once she arrives first to England and then later to Paris. However, it lacks artistic direction and balance. Not a contradiction in terms exactly.

for example, the opening scene shows her being exhibited in a medical seminar and the end of the movie displays her physical remains which would later be put in a Paris Musueum. My point is that the Director could have taken more attention to detail and put the lady into a greater prospective, perhaps a prequel to the main part of the story (the recent Johnny Depp movie 'Dark shadows" a case in point) showing the lady in her tribal land and how she met the Doctor before arriving to England. The explanation in the movie is all too bland and passed over for the most part. The same applied for the ending although there were some explanatory subtitles and compensating visual glimpses of when she was returned to South Africa.

What we see in this film is no different from what still goes on in our world today but in a different way. We go-global in order to see the very thing that this humble woman was subjected to and we pay to see it, sometimes on the internet - animals as well as humans - and it is only perhaps in western countries that there are anti-voice against the abuse in circuses.

We should watch this film and want to be shocked. Unlike the spectators shown throughout the film, we have the benefit of a greater education and enhanced knowledge but abuse such as Saartje Baartman is shown to endure in the movie, goes on to this day.

There was a lack of cohesion at times in the transition from going London to Paris and then later when Saartje found herself in the Brothels. Yes, she drank and smoked and was inevitably sensitive and temperamental given her real life role play but this is indeed an extraordinary film about an extraordinary woman who is extraordinary for her courage and determination and not so unordinary from any other woman except for her buttocks and her labia, according to the medical scientists.

I certainly enjoyed this film more than the "Hobbit' which bored the pants off me (except for the special effects) and yes 'Venus Noire' is slow and often repetitive but I can share empathy with the Director and in an unkind, cruel, uncomfortable way, this is entertainment.

On a general note, there is no swearing or offensive violence, despite the harsh treatment Saartje Baartman endured while away from South Africa. Yes, she is mostly naked for large sections of the film and there are a couple of later scenes in Paris where she is in a sexual situation but apart from that, this is not a film for a sexual voyeur and don't expect to see flashes of an unusually large labia because you will not.

The standard of acting in this film is excellent. I may be wrong here but this is a French film and so good sub-titles in English or language of your choice are important. I suggest that there are a lot of other movies out there who will shock and offend you a whole lot more than this one.
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8/10
great cinematic and acting performance
yossarian-heller27 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I couldn't disagree more with those who say that they have been abused for three hours. Yes, the film is hard to swallow; yes, a number of scenes are degrading. But, the plot is not so straightforward as some say.

In fact, some characters grow more complex than they seem to be at first sight and there is a distinct gradation in the way people (i.e. : the characters who watch the show, not the spectators in the cinema) react to the exhibition of this woman. It could even be argued that the higher we move in society, the more unpleasant and distasteful their reactions become, to culminate with the absolute callousness of the leading scientists of the time.

But discussing the content of the film might lead us to forget its essential quality : it is a stunning piece of cinema and especially so in the most unpalatable scenes. It might be added that, besides the performance of the leading actress, another performer could well deserve an Oscar or a prize wherever that film will be shown : Olivier Gourmet, usually an excellent actor, delivers here a world-class performance (in three languages, mind you!)
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3/10
Abusing not only the main character but the audience
dbborroughs24 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Before start I need to say that the cast is great especially Yahima Torres as the title character. Its an Oscar worthy performance, unfortunately it's buried in a film that is abusive to its audience as it is to the title character.

I saw this at the first screening at the NYFF and when it was over the audience around me wanted to find and kill the director. The audience was subdued, or rather the audience that remained was subdued and was mumbling about what would have made the film better...

This is the story of Saartjie 'Sarah' Baartman, best known as the Hottentot Venus, a woman of unique proportions who was exhibited all over Europe and died a tragic death. The film is told in flashback and starts with a lecture where her body parts are exhibited, and then flashes back to her days in London before taking us all the way back to her dissection. Its a warts and all look at the abuse she suffered in her life.

Nasty unpleasant unending film that is nothing but a repetitive catalog of the abuses that Baartman suffered in her life. It goes on and an on as she's abused in shows, by scientists, in sex shows, in brothels and as a streetwalker. There is no light no character only abuse.

The idea is that we are suppose to be made to feel complicit in the abuse and we are supposed to feel something but after almost three hours of GRAPHIC abuse wears you down. You go numb and if you were part of the audience at Alice Tully Hall you want to find the director and hit him.

While I wasn't driven to homicidal thoughts I was bored after a certain part and by the time she's cut up and put into jars I didn't much care.

On the other hand the news footage that plays during the end credits of her remains being returned to South Africa brought me to tears, but it would have done so even if I hadn't been abused for three hours.

Honestly the director makes his point after ten minutes and doesn't need two hours and a half hour more to repeat the point. By doing so he loses the argument and the audience.
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profound pain
Vincentiu1 July 2014
it is not only the pain of lead character but , in a special form, the pain of viewer. because not only racism and exploitation of a woman vulnerability are the subjects but large manner to discover, in each period, in each society, the other, the stranger, the strange, the exotic victim who inspire fake feeling of power. it is the film of an admirable actress and a necessary lesson about sins who are not absolved. it is a kind of mirror. more than touching, it is terrible. more than terrible it is honest image of a circle. and , maybe, image of a sacrifice who has as axis the force of silence. a powerful message. reflection of profound pain. that is all. and the image of a human been as ordinary tool.
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7/10
Flawed, but still a solid movie
marcuspinn20 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The last movie i saw at this years NY Film Fest was Black Venus. As flawed as this movie may have been, at the end of the day it was a step forward in black film (if there even is such a thing). For once i didn't have to sit through a movie about; the first black athlete to slam dunk a basketball at an ivy league school, a single teen mother in the ghetto (yes I'm taking a stab at precious and the hundred other movies to focus on that), an aspiring rapping pimp (hustle n' flow), a black sidekick that has some stupid loyalty to the white main character (a role kept alive by Morgan Freeman and Whoopi Goldberg) or a biography about a predictable civil rights leader. Black Venus Tells the story of Saartjie Baartman (aka "Hottentot Venus"), a young women from Cape Town who was shown as a "freak" in a traveling carnival in Europe during the 1800's, due to her curvy physique (something Europeans had not yet seen). In her short life, not only was she exhibited (and groped at) in a freak show, but she was used as entertainment in private sex parties, studied by scientists like an object and even had to work as prostitute in order to make money. Even though this was Yamiha Torres's first time acting, she gave a performance reminiscent of Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist or even Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet. I make those comparisons, because each of those actresses had to let their guard down, and really stretch as actresses (almost to the point where you kinda feel embarrassed for them at certain points in the movie). Naturally, Black Venus will draw comparison to a movie like; The Elephant Man or even Todd Browning's Freaks (not to say that either Saartjie Baartman or John Merrick were freaks). Black Venus had the natural feel of director; Abdellatif Kechiche's other movies like; Secret of The Grain, which i appreciated. This film only had one flaw but as far as I'm concerned it was a MAJOR one. The editing. Jesus Christ this movie could've been cut down quite a bit. I thought there were WAY too many scenes that focused on her being shown as a freak, and hardly no focus on the main characters back story (outside of a few references here and there). Even more, the scenes where she is paraded around like a sideshow went on for way too long to the point where you want to scream; "ALRIGHT, ENOUGH! WE GET IT!" The last half of the movie in particular has its share of scenes that are very difficult to watch. Black Venus is a lot to take in, and its still stuck in my head. So, even though the movie lacked some serious editing, it obviously succeeded in that the images are still stuck in my head and i cant stop thinking about it. The ending sequence during the credits draws comparison to another David Lynch film; Inland Empire. Both Black Venus and Inland Empire are very intense and take a lot out of you, but both movies have an ending sequence that put you at ease. In Black Venus, the movie ends with actual news footage of Saartjie Baartman's remains being shipped back to South Africa after years of (ironically) being exhibited in a french museum. This one of few scenes in the movie that out you at ease.
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8/10
a thoroughly worthwhile experience
thisissubtitledmovies14 January 2011
excerpt, full review at my location - While some will attest that the armless Venus De Milo is a work of art, actual physical faults are treated with considerably less vigour – even when they're a result of nature itself. The Venus in Abdellatif Kechiche's biographical drama never comes close to attaining the stature of a God, but nevertheless provides the basis for a fascinating meditation on how one can be judged by the sum of their apparent parts.

The film's value lies in its ability to interconnect human sciences with medical science, genuinely accessible as an historical biopic of sorts, but never exclusively tied to a timeline. In avoiding becoming too self- righteous towards his subject, Kechiche achieves a lot with his ambitiously-scoped examination of cultural ignorance, and integrates conventional biopic stamps into his outlandish topic. Even if a chunk of Black Venus could acceptably be consigned to the cutting room floor, it's difficult to condemn its unrelenting vision, and the level of interest in its unique appeal makes for a thoroughly worthwhile experience.
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1/10
Horrible (And Not In A Dramatic Good Sense)
Stoneweak4 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
After hearing about this film through a significant amount of media attention in my neck of the woods (the Netherlands) I decided to give it a shot. The reviewers on TV and in the newspaper were talking about a story that was both moving and horrific, and that was sadly true as well.

** Spoilers beyond this point **

The movie starts of with the bodycast of our "black Venus" and her genitalia in a jar, which is passed around while we are shown detailed drawings of her vagina. Seriously WTF/ After that the movie tries to shock us again by showing us the performance black Venus has to do on stage. While you get it after 1 minute (yes she's in a cage, yes its demeaning, yes it's wrong) the director chooses to show it's entire length. This was the first time I checked my watch, OMG only 35 minutes in an already bored?

What follows is more or less a how-to guide in how NOT to get the audience emotionally involved with your characters. Black Venus gets the chance to make a stance at a hearing in court about what's going on, claims it's her free will to participate, she's an actress yadadada. OK, cool, good for you Venus, while after seeing the stage show for the millionth time and enduring another round of shock-fire from the misguided director the movie becomes unbearable and is just as hard on you as it is on Venus.

The movie drags on for a good 1,5 hours after this point. OK WE GET IT SHE IS NØT HAPPY. AAARGH!!!!

I feel almost ashamed to say this but I only felt relieve when she finally dropped dead in the movie, cause we knew it was almost over.

Horrible horrible horrible drag of a film, and it's up with the worst of the worst in my book.

Definite NO GO

Be warned!!
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8/10
What is exploited?
stensson28 August 2011
This is the story of the black woman in the early 1800s, shown on cheap varieties as the so called Hottentott Venus. She behaves like an animal, is treated on stage as an animal and is regarded as such by the rude audiences.

She isn't a slave. Not technically, but the agreement with her employer is of course on his terms. There are also other forms of performances. This woman also acts in front of Parisian high society and not at least in front of the scientists of the time, who find resemblances with the orangutan.

What her employers is exploiting is not just this woman; they also exploit racism and the different kind of audiences let their racism be exploited. There are of course money to be made from prejudices. 200 years ago and now. This our lesson.
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2/10
The Most Disturbing Movie Ever - And it was Unnecessary
krazedpoetess14 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not going to summarize the movie as many of the other reviews have already done so. What I am going to tell you is that this movie is so graphic and so horrifying that it's not even worth watching. My friend and I went to see it at the Pan-African Film Festival thinking it was a documentary about the Hottentot Venus. What we got instead was an abusive dramatic film that was so disturbing it makes me question the writer's/director's intent.

The film goes into graphic detail of this Black woman's abuse and it drags on long after you get the point. There are many scenes that show Ms. Baartman being abused on public display in many different venues even when we as an audience have already gotten the point about how disgusting her abuse was. My friend and I walked out on the movie toward the end. We were trying to stick around for the Q & A but the movie eventually got so disgusting we couldn't watch any more. We saw droves of people sexually abuse this woman for a long period of time to the point where we couldn't endure this garbage any longer.

Also let me add, if you yourself have been sexually/physically abused, you definitely don't want to watch this film. It will trigger everything you've been trying to get rid of via therapy.
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10/10
A MASTERPIECE!
samf200615 September 2018
Pros: A very important tale worth telling.

A true depiction of a strong black woman, who did what she had to do to survive.

I saw the story as a metaphor for how every European country took advantage of the continent of Africa.

Cons: I hate the fact that what took place in the film, happened to many people of African descent.
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Stunning and disturbing
gphgrm0119 June 2018
It is impossible to rate this film because it is about the subject inexplicably painful and graphic, and still absolutely worth seeing, no matter how difficult it is. It is about sexualized racism. And it says a lot about white man and a white Europe. We still live in that world. This film make people think. I cannot recommend it to anyone sensitive, still I have to praise the director and the lead actress. Knowing that Abdelativ Kechiche made also two other great movies, Kus-kus and Blue is the warmest color, I understand his poetics, and this film falls in that category of his great films as well.

Of course, from the first minute of the movie, we know how a black African woman will be treated in white Europe 100 years ago, just probably, especially if we are from white Europe, we did not have a clue about the extent and details of how racist gender abuse looks like, and what is the link to the presence. Now we know, and we cannot pretend that we haven't seen this film.
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bitter
Kirpianuscus31 July 2016
one of films who impress for its message. because it is not exactly a film about racism, prejudices, past or steps of science but about the other's position in society.honest.about cold. a black woman and her shows. the freedom as convention. the show and its nuances. a film who propose not a solution or sides of hidden events. only a start point for understand the manner to use the people as objects. and the complicity of the society to this cruel game.so, the virtue of the film is to reflect a ball of attitudes about the people. the selfish, the cruelty, the greed. who are parts of human nature. the axis of this delicate construction - the performance of Yahima Torres. the pillars - the music, dialogues and the air of the different scenes who becomes almost perceived by viewer. a film who could be useful. not only as historical testimony but as demonstration of a strange form of profound sin .
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9/10
Venus noire is a quite beautifully filmed meditation on man's "master and slave" compulsion.
dominiquerobert13 April 2011
While you watch it, this movie will seem too slow, and repetitive. Then you will walk out of the movie theater and start thinking about it: was it too slow to voluntarily short circuit your movie consumer's habits ? was the repetitiousness not unlike some kind of minimalistic serial music? The next day, you will not have completely forgotten the movie, the same way you have completely forgotten the movie you saw the week before. Then, little by little, in the face of the harshness, inhumanity and sheer jungleness of the everyday world, you will think back on Venus noire, on how this movie is a kind of allegory for man's difficulty to care for others. Actually, the repetitiousness of the movie will seem to you not unlike the repetitiousness of man's constant recourse to the "master and slave" scenario to get ahead in life; and the slowness will seem to you not unlike the incredible length of time man is taking to try out some new kinder, less individualistic, more humane scenario which would not only help "the master/s" get ahead. The epilogue images are all about mankind being somehow, sometimes capable of forfeiting its "master and slave" compulsion. Thank you art for reminding us we are capable of that !
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1/10
liked 'Games...'and '...Grain'...but HATE this abusive film by Kechiche
eeames20 July 2012
This film exuberantly participates in the very abuse it purports to critique, debasing its actors, it audience, and most unforgivably, its subject. There is but one well-composed shot--of Saartjie and a journalist departing in a carriage--otherwise it is chock-full of lazily composed close ups of repulsive people doing repulsive things to an inscrutable, and hence utterly unknowable, totally cardboard, victim--one who can drink, smoke, cry, cough, yes, but what the hell is she thinking?! The director lets us in on nothing--she remains silent, acted upon, never reacting much less actually taking action! The one time in the screenplay that she resists unwelcome scrutiny, her decision is rendered incomprehensible by all the other exploitative events in the lamentable tale--based loosely, very, very, loosely, upon a true life-story. And sorry, but there is absolutely no need to cheapen the depth of the real woman's tragedy by all too simplistically literalizing (the totally un- historical) prostitution of Saartjie Baartman (note: I do not believe this is in any way a spoiler). Wow, I have never hated a movie this much--and I had high expectations because of thefascinating subject and because I very much enjoyed the filmmaker's "secret in the grain" (but for the indulgently long belly- dance) and "the games of love and chance"...but this one is hideously, monstrously, unforgivably, exploitative of a woman who has already suffered enough.
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7/10
A woman exploited
jotix1005 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A doctor introduces the audience to what is about to unfold before our eyes on the screen. It is a lecture about an unusual woman who puzzled the scientists of the early XIX century. The subject of the study was a South African native, Saartjie Baartman, a woman of humble origins, working as a domestic help in the home of Hendrick Caezar, an opportunist, who realizes the potential in exploiting Saartjie to unsuspecting European audiences whose appetite for that type of freak shows proved to be a source of making money at the expense of the unfortunate woman.

Another member of that circuit, the bear tamer Reaux, realizes the gold mine his friend has. Reaux manages to get Saartjie for his own exploitation. He devises a scheme where he pushes Saartjie into exhibiting her as a freak show for the corrupt higher classes of France, of that time. The bored high society saw in Saartjie an opportunity to satisfy their own perversity and abnormal sex desires, heightened by the presence of the exotic woman who is made to be the object of their fantasies. Ultimately, Saartjie resorts to prostitution, dying in miserable conditions. The ultimate desecration of this woman occurred as Reaux finally sells her body to the medical investigators Saartjie did not want to have them examine her most intimate parts.

"Black Venus", conceived and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, the recent winner of best picture at Cannes 2013. The film is a documentary about the tragic life of a woman that attracted attention from people that exploited the physical attributes which she, a rarity for an ignorant public came to see as an aberration, as well as a sexual fantasy. M. Kechiche co-wrote the screenplay with Ghalia Lacroix. It is based on the real story of the South African woman, who finally was recognized as a victim of those who used her for their own benefit, getting rich by selling her as the wild animal she was not.

The acting is one of the best things going for the film. Unfortunately, the central figure of Saartjie, as played by Yahima Torres, who appears to be a non professional actress, shows only a limited range of emotions, keeping her one expression, with the exception of her real tears, throughout the film. It probably is unfair to Ms. Torres, but she was in the company of more experienced professionals like the excellent Olivier Gourmet, who as Reaux, is the best thing in the picture. Theactor keeps surprising with every new appearance. Andre Jacobs as Fredrick Caezar manages to convey his hideous nature as the exploiter of the unfortunate woman. Elina Lowensohn makes an impression as Jeanne, the only kind soul Saartjie met in her life.

Director Kechiche shows incredible talent and it is apparent he will be a force to be reckoned with in his future endeavors. The cinematographer, Ludomir Bakchev captures the mood of the period in which the action takes place.
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2/10
perhaps the most depressing movie ever made
roedyg3 July 2013
Unless you are as perverted as the Marquis de Sade, you probably will not enjoy this movie. It about is the enslavement and degradation of a Hottentot woman, exploited as a sexual freak. It gets worse and worse and worse ending with her a streetwalker with VD and TB, dying alone. The DVD was behind the counter at the library, for good reason I discovered. I had to turn the DVD machine off several times. I kept hoping somehow fortunes would change for her, or at least some revenge. The movie was simultaneously degrading for the character, and for the actor Yahima Torres who played Saartjie Baartman. I could not believe a modern actress would willing play such a degrading role. She must have been tricked or bullied into it. It is one of the most depressing movies ever made. It leaves you feeling filthy to the core. It is a soft porn movie, but it is much dirtier and disgusting than any hard-core porn movie you would have seen.
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1/10
Horrible, Horrible, Simply Horrible
muons19 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The movie is about the real story of a black woman who was the subject of freak shows in early 19th century London. It opens with a grotesque scientific convention scene where a group of physicians inspect the genitals of a woman preserved in a formaldehyde filled jar accompanied with a long, boring technical monologue which is aimed to reflect the "scientific" viewpoints of its time. Then, it is mired into an endless series of abuse scenes which get worse before the movie transforms into some kind of hard porn. The subject matter would certainly be a great story in the hands of a talented director, but in this case, there's no storytelling and the director simply makes the audience witness her sufferings in real time with repetitive freak show scenes which follow one after another and drag on until the audience is bored to death. One final word about the lead actress, Yahima Torres. Throughout her ordeal, she simply looks bored rather than disturbed and agonized with no reaction to her abusers. With blank stares, she smokes, drinks and follows what she's told to do. From the trivia, I understand she was simply picked up from the street for this role without any preceding professional career. Her inexperience could be the reason why she was so submissive to director's strange style, otherwise it's difficult to imagine any self-respecting actress would go along with such a bizarre scenario. What a sad start for a career and what a sorry piece of junk for such a great and promising material.
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