Fear and Paranoia in Clouzot’s Le Corbeau

Fear is something that all humans have felt and experienced, especially when the object of our fear is mysterious or anonymous to us.  According to horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft, “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”  Expanding further on the concept of fear, Jiddu Krishnamurti (a spiritual philosopher) states that, “fear begins and ends with the desire to be secure…To find security and be secure is the everlasting cry. It is this insistent demand that breeds fear.”   As one can see, fear is a very powerful emotion and it’s not surprising that film directors have tapped into this emotion to scare us for entertainment purposes or to point out something (usually, negative) about ourselves as human beings.  Henri-Georges Clouzot is one such director that has utilized the emotion of fear to portray the negative side of human beings.
      
Perhaps, Clouzot’s best film to illustrate this point is Le Corbeau (The Raven), which depicts a small French town where all the residents receive “poison-pen” letters from an enigmatic figure called “The Raven” and the fear and paranoia that follows from them.  The town is thrown into chaos and people begin to accuse one another of being “The Raven” and writing the letters.  The fear and paranoia only increases when a young patient after receiving one of these letters, kills himself.  The townspeople immediately assume that Marie Corbin (a nurse with a strict attitude) is “The Raven” (though she is not) because she reportedly did not like the patient and because she disapproved of Dr. Germain who is constantly attacked by “The Raven” in the letters for having an affair and giving abortions.  At one point in the film, the town politicians desperate to do something about “The Raven” decide to get rid of Dr. Germain by setting him up, in the hope that “The Raven” would stop writing the letters; the plot is exposed and foiled.
        
The two incidents in the film illustrate how far the letters have driven everyone in the town to fear and paranoia. How Clouzot illicit these reactions from the citizens of the town is interesting and effective.  For instance, most people would assume that a funeral procession would be safe from one of “The Raven’s” letters, but no Clouzot has a letter fall out of a wreath as the mourners follow the casket of the decease (the young man who killed himself).  Even more suspenseful than the funeral procession, Clouzot saves the biggest place that we would assume that “The Raven” would never strike would be a Sunday morning Catholic mass.  Yet, Clouzot being the director he is, has the letter dropped from the gallery during the sermon.  Once again, this is effective what Clouzot did, because it shows the townspeople and us, the audience that nowhere is safe from “The Raven’s” claw.   Believe you and me, the scene with the letter coming down from the gallery and seeing how the people react, sends chills down my spine.  It’s that good of a scene.
      
Another thing that Clouzot does well with portraying fear and our reactions to it is the use of false clues and the twist ending.  As stated earlier, Marie Corbin was an initial suspect of being “The Raven”, but thanks to Clouzot’s suspenseful scene where the letter falls from the gallery, Marie is found to be innocent because earlier in the film, she was in jail.  That powerful scene helps illustrate the notion that “The Raven” could be anyone in the town and not the person we assume looks like a guilty party.  In fact, Clouzot shows us two other potential suspects, Laura (Dr. Vorzet’s young wife) and Denise (a flirtatious woman who has fling with Dr. Germain).  Both are not “The Raven,” yet the evidence that Clouzot provides us before the actual identity of “The Raven” is revealed made me think one of them was guilty.  After all, Denise was seen in the film dusting a stuffed raven and said raven ended up near Dr. Germain’s front door.  Both Denise and Laura were caught red-handed writing letters similar to “The Raven”, yet the real “Raven” was Dr. Vorzet (Laura’s husband) who discovered that his wife wanted a relationship with Dr. Germain and in act of revenge, came up with this scheme as way to expose other people’s skeletons in the closet.   
        
The ending of the film was shocking and satisfying to me because the mother of the young man who committed suicide got her revenge when she killed Dr. Vorzet.  Overall, Clouzot did a wonderful job with using fear and paranoia.  Using unexpected places that the townspeople and audience would not expect to see a letter appear, shows us how Clouzot masterfully manipulates his audience into feeling fearful and paranoid because the audience like the townspeople are wondering when will the letters stop.  In the end, Le Corbeau is a great thriller that keeps you wondering who the culprit is until the very end.

Advertisements

20 comments on “Fear and Paranoia in Clouzot’s Le Corbeau

  1. Howdy! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I most certainly will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  2. After checking out a handful of the blog articles on your blog, I truly like your technique of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my website too and tell me what you think.

  3. I blog often and I seriously appreciate your information. The article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your Feed as well.

  4. Pingback: Latest Gadget

  5. Using the wrong soap can throw off your skins natural, healthy PH
    level, which will in turn create a skin environment that is much more suitable
    for acne to develop. Cabbage can assist in detoxifying your body of many damaging chemicals which may have accumulated in your body.
    There are a lot of aggravating factors, and it’s not actually the food that you eat that can cause them.

  6. May I just say what a comfort to find someone who truly understands what they are talking about online.
    You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light
    and make it important. More and more people have to read this and
    understand this side of your story. I can’t believe you’re
    not more popular because you certainly possess the gift.

  7. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this
    blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem
    on my end or if it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  8. Hi, i believe that i saw you visited my blog thus i got here to go back the
    choose?.I’m trying to in finding things to enhance my web site!I guess its
    ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  9. It’s in point of fact a great and helpful piece of information.
    I’m happy that you simply shared this useful info with us.

    Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just nice and i can assume you’re
    an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your
    feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a
    million and please continue the enjoyable work.

  11. Loukkaantua laivasto sivistys operaattori pesu
    keskikenttä varovasti äänimäärä kaurismäki, sula
    avausjakso yksinään kolikko juuttua oecd siepata sijoituspaikka elintarviketeollisuus rumpu konsertoida

  12. Heya! This is the third time visiting now and I really just wanted to say I truley relish reading your website. I decided to bookmark it at digg.com with the title: %BLOGTITLE% and your Web address: %BLOGURL%. I hope this is ok with you, I’m making an attempt to give your wonderful blog a bit more coverage. Be back soon.

  13. Wow, superb weblog structure! How long have you been running a blog for? you made running a blog glance easy. The whole look of your site is great, as smartly as the content!RONAS Twin Towers

  14. Along with every little thing that seems to be building throughout this particular subject material, all your points of view are rather exciting. On the other hand, I am sorry, but I can not give credence to your whole plan, all be it radical none the less. It appears to us that your remarks are actually not totally rationalized and in reality you are generally your self not thoroughly convinced of the assertion. In any event I did appreciate reading through it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s