BP’s Top 100 Movie Challenge #45: Jules and Jim, by Sarah Brinks
I decided to undertake a movie challenge in 2017. This seemed like a good way to see some classic movies that I have unfortunately never seen. The Battleship Pretension Top 100 list has a good number of films I hadn’t seen before so it is a good source for my challenge.
I can’t quite put my finger on what is so fascinating about love triangles, but they certainly make for great fiction. From King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot to Katniss, Gale, and Pita, fiction is full of love triangles. Jules and Jim is another strong addition to the genre. I had tried watching this film years ago and didn’t finish it. I am glad I stuck with it this time.
Rewatching the film, I see why I gave up on it about a third of the way through. The beginning is the least interesting part. It isn’t until after the war that the film starts to really get interesting for me. Once Catherine marries Jules, and Jim comes to visit, the story really takes a turn for the better. Watching the three of then navigate their relationships is fascinating and kept me entertained.
The men in the film were clearly fascinated by Catherine, and she is a captivating character, but I wonder if my viewing of the film was a little tinted by my gender. I was able to see through her in a way that the men in the film couldn’t. Her inconsistency and lack of satisfaction was sexy and challenging for the men in her life because any time her light shined on one of them, they felt like they had won. However, the truth is that she was selfish, spoiled, and probably suffered from manic depression. Catherine is also extremely manipulative, which I think Jules and Jim both recognized but simply accepted from her because they wanted her.
Though I wasn’t really rooting for any of them to end up together, I think I was most sympathetic to Jules. His love for Catherine and Sabine was genuine and he got the short end of the stick. But, he also chose to stay even when Catherine made it clear that she didn’t want him any more as a lover. I think my sympathies for Jules made the ending even more bitter. I think I hated ending. Catherine had clearly taken a turn toward genuine mental breakdown when she pulled a gun on Jules but the abrupt way she commits suicide with Jules felt rushed and shocking. I guess it fits with her manic nature, but it didn’t work for me and of course it left poor Jules alone with their daughter. She not only took away her own life; she took away his best friend. I think in that way the ending is too cruel to be satisfying for me.
I’ve decided to rate each film using an arbitrary scale based on the board game Battleship (lowest: Destroyer, Submarine, Cruiser, Battleship, highest: Carrier)
Jules and Jim ranking: Cruiser