MovieChat Forums > Our History (1984) Discussion > Trying to unravel this film's meaning

Trying to unravel this film's meaning

I've watched "Notre Histoire" many times now and am just coming to terms with the conceptual element aside from the dialogue and plot. I often wonder what Blier had in mind with the meaning of this film.

Here a several plausible interpretations for this film that have crossed my mind. I'd be very curious to hear what you can synopsize from it.

1) During a business trip, Avranche is dreaming and in his dream state transposes his founded fears of his wife's affair into his subconscious, and materializes his own affair during his dream state, thus coming to terms (sympathizing) with her feelings and reaching a state of understanding and forgiveness upon his return.

2) The entire film serves as a surreal fantasy into the institute of marriage and the notion that the motif of an affair as fantasy is an ultimate eroticism, even if one was to fantasize about an affair with ones own wife.

3) Blier is poking fun in his sexist tradition that all women are the same unforgivable animal of instinctual self-preservation, i.e, the wife, the whore, the mistress, the mother.

4) The film is a tribute to the male fantasy of dualism, being able to keep a family while being and unbridled harem-keeper and whore-monger whenever the ego's urges emerge.

5) All events that transpire over the film's course are in fact real, but Avranche's decent in to alcoholism brings him to a false epiphany in his wet-brain deterioration imagining a happy ending in which Donattiene is his forgiving wife and mother to his children.

6) The film is not so much about Avranche's character as it is about the idea of a woman of intense passion; a woman whose love knows no boundaries and can be classified as a whore or saint because of her ability to put her own intentions aside to provide comfort for any soul whether sexual or childish, hence Donatienne's turn as a wife, mother and school teacher (the scene with the florist revealing that every town has a Donatienne comes to mind as she tries to put Avranche at ease with hard "Guise" to stop his over-analysis).

I beg forgiveness if my interpretations have made your head spin, but I consider this film to be one of the most surreal and amazing works of art I have ever witnessed, and I am at a point where I welcome some sincere discussion. One user described the film as "Gaelic" in a sense that it could not be understood out of cultural context; however, I think it represents a paradigm that asks the most of us in our interpersonal relationships, in turn being undeniably Blier in nature, which is to question all stereotypes in which we try to define how men and women connect, no matter how confusing it is, asking analysis of ourselves while trying to unravel the dynamics which bring the sexes together.


Insightful post, thank you - and I think all of these interpretations may apply simultaneously, to an extent. Indeed a complex film on very much familiar territory for Blier as Les Valseuses and Preparez Vos Mouchoirs in particularly obsessed with various psychopathologies revolving around the mysteries of sex. However, I feel the 2 aforementioned earlier films are ultimately more accomplished works because the story, as it were, is a bit on a ´too´ flimsy side, the thing seems often kind of unfocused with plenty of uninspired meandering going on, especially around the middle section. And, try as it might, it´s really not as outrageous, inspired or unpredictable (the nature of Delon´s escapade and the explanation for the film´s basic conceptional idea, aren´t ultimately that hard to guess; as to the sophistication of its execution, I´ll need to see it again in order to give a more informed opinion). Actually, if it wasn´t for the movies´s final 30-45 minutes, I wouldn´t have given it a rating higher than 5/10 - however, the final third is clearly more "together" than the rest, while Blier masterfully builds an atmosphere of very real sadness over life that´s more and more obviously heading for an inevitable dead-end (strange though how the final moments seemed to preach the good preach for the value of a strong family unit, which feels a bit like the Zeitgeist over in the US at the time had also mysteriously reached France & made them as, well, conservative as they are across the Atlantic) Anyways, the absolutely wonderful scene in the almost-empty restaraunt after New Year midnight is probably the best one here, radiating vibes of Kaurismäki and De Palma. Overall, looks like the weakest of the 4 Bliers I seen thus far, but there´s still a fair amount of good than bad about the film... 6,5/10 is just about right. Never dull or didactic - but, of course, Blier has never been those things whatever else one can say about him.

"facts are stupid things" - Ronald Reagan