As with most of the big names of the New Wave, Claude Chabrol began his cinematic career as a critic for the Cahiers du Cinema. This critical career culminated with the release in 1957 of a book about the films of Alfred Hitchcock. This attraction to Hitchcock’s style and subject matter followed Chabrol when he ‘crossed the aisle’ from criticism to film-making and his early output quickly earned him a reputation as the ‘French Hitchcock’ and the influences can also be seen in the film I am going to be writing about today.
Que La Bete Meure (1969) was adapted by a novel by the British poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis. It is the story of a man who tries to avenge the death of his son by tracking down the man who ran him over. After seducing the man’s sister-in-law and infiltrating himself into the killer’s family, the grieving father discovers that the family have no more love for the thuggish monster than he does. The scene I want to talk about is the extraordinary opening sequence leading up to the death of the child and the father’s discovery of the body.