Archive of films The Mouth Agape / La gueule ouverte

1974, 82 min

Section: Seven Close Encounters
Year: 2016

Olmo Omerzu presents

Birth, childhood and youth, adulthood, falling in love, old age, death: few elect to depict the last of the various stages that constitute our lives. And virtually no-one has succeeded in capturing those final moments in a film – what they mean for the person who is dying and also for those gathered round the deathbed. Pialat’s work, hovering between a raw portrayal and a quasi-metaphysical contemplation, is simply a masterpiece.


“Maurice Pialat is a filmmaker who made me start to take an interest in film realism. In his work it’s such a different kind of realism and it’s often so physical that it becomes abstract, metaphysical. At least that’s how I’d describe The Mouth Agape, in which, via the simple premise of a family gathering, Pialat demonstrates that death and sexuality are inseparably linked.” – Olmo Omerzu. Viewers really do get a strange feeling when they see the film’s precisely scanned details of real life, and the way the plot unfolds seems authentic as well; nothing is artificially dramatised, no static or insubstantial moments have been excluded. And yet, we get a clear sense that the significance of the piece hangs somewhere high above these almost pedantically recorded minutiae. The earthy expression gueule in the film’s title isn’t meant as a vulgarity, as it might seem at first, and, by the time the closing credits roll, the word has acquired a quite different meaning.

Zdena Škapová

About the director

Maurice Pialat (b. 1925, Cunlhat – 2003, Paris), director, screenwriter and actor who, after studying painting and architecture, began to make documentaries in the late 1950s and early 1960s, during the blustery arrival of the French New Wave. In his late feature debut Naked Childhood (1968) he already demonstrated directorial approaches that would become characteristic for his work. His films were reminiscent of the style of Robert Bresson from the previous generation, with whom he shared a strong interest in painting. Pialat’s films are known for their austerity of expression, pithy detail, static lensing, conspicuously long shots, and his disassociation from his characters and their dramatic stories. Selected filmography: We Won’t Grow Old Together (Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble, 1972), Loulou (1980), To Our Loves (1983), Police (1985), Under the Sun of Satan (1987), Van Gogh (1991).


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About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Seven Close Encounters
Director: Maurice Pialat
Screenplay: Maurice Pialat
Dir. of Photography: Néstor Almendros
Editor: Bernard Dubois, Arlette Langmann
Art Director: Michel de Broin
Producer: André Génovès, Micheline Pialat
Coproduction: Lido Films, Les Films de la Boétie
Cast: Nathalie Baye, Hubert Deschamps, Philippe Léotard, Monique Mélinand
Sales: Gaumont

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