Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Mouchette (1967)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Mouchette (1967, Fr.)

In director Robert Bresson's bleak coming-of-age story (his last black and white film) about a 14 year-old girl who was often-abused and insulted, and demeaned:

  • the film's brief pre-titles prologue - an unidentified woman (Mouchette's terminally-ill mother) in a church bemoaned and prayed about her coming death from a cancerous tumor and the fate of her family: "What will become of them without me? I can feel it in my breast. It's like a stone inside" - then as the camera remained where she was sitting, she rose and departed, to the sounds of Claudio Monteverdi’s Magnificat
  • the introduction of the title character: pig-tailed Mouchette (Nadine Nortier), the neglected pubescent daughter of the mostly bedridden, dying mother (Marie Cardinal), and her mean peasant father (Paul Hebert) (a contraband liquor smuggler) who lived in a rural French village; a tearful Mouchette was left to feed, care for, and change the diapers of the family's newborn - an often-crying baby boy
  • the miserable circumstances of her life - ill-fitting clogs, her mistreatment at school by her teacher (Liliane Princet) who grabbed her by the neck and shoved her toward a piano when she refused to sing a hymn along with the others, with the apt words: "Hope! Hope is dead"; the teacher held her head down above the piano keyboard, hit a few keys, and ordered: "Sing!"
  • Mouchette's ostracism and shunning by her classmates (one called her "rat face"), and the cold regard and frequent maligning by her abusive father (her father's method of discipline was to shove her), and condemnation by the townsfolk (one shopkeeper called her a "little slut")
  • the scene of Mouchette's attempt to find friendship with a boy whom she flirted with and happily met at the amusement-park carnival during a bumper-cars ride, but shortly later when she approached the boy at the shooting gallery, her father intervened and viciously slapped her across the face, and led her away as he pushed her
At Amusement Park
Bumper-Car Ride
Friendship With Boy
Slapped By Her Mean Father
  • the after-school sequence of Mouchette crouching and hiding in a roadside ditch and flinging muddy dirt clods at groups of bullying schoolgirls
  • during a rainstorm, the sequence of Mouchette's visit to the hut of alcoholic poacher Arsène (Jean-Claude Gilbert), an epileptic who lived in the woods; he told her about a drunken fight he just had with rival gameskeeper Mathieu (Jean Vimenet): "I think I killed a man...This time I got him...He pitched forward. His legs were thrashing. Furiously at first, then slower. Then they stopped. He was face-down in the water. It turned red"; Mouchette volunteered to provide Arsene with a false alibi in a cover-up, so he could escape possible assault charges: "If I can be of help, Mr. Arsene...I'll say I was in the woods, that I saw you both. He insulted and attacked you. Listen, please. Do I say he was drunk? You can count on me. I hate them. I'll stand up to them all!"
  • the scene of Arsene's epileptic fit when he fell onto the floor, and Mouchette attended to him by wiping his face, but then he conducted an assaultive predatory rape of Mouchette - he pushed her to the floor in front of a roaring fire (at first she resisted, but then wrapped her arms around his back, as the scene faded to black)
Predatory Rape of Mouchette by Arsene
  • later, when questioned about Arsene's drunken night with her and her suspicious alibi, Mouchette remarkably declared: "Monsieur Arsene is my lover"
Mouchette's Off-Screen Suicide
Rolling Down Hill
(3 times)
Space Left Behind on Hillside
Splash Into Water
  • in the film's tragic and shattering conclusion after her mother's death (who cautioned Mouchette with her dying words: "Steer clear of drunks and good-for-nothings") and at a spot where hunters shot a helpless rabbit, a desperate Mouchette used her dead mother's sheet shroud, given to her by an elderly woman, to cover herself in order to roll down a hill three times - before she was able to successfully and suicidally drown herself (offscreen)
  • there was no image of her body entering the water, only the sound and view of her entry splash, with a postlude of the Magnificat

Mouchette's Terminally-Ill Mother in Church

Young Mouchette - Caring for Her Mother's Newborn Baby Boy

Mouchette Mistreated at School

Often Condemned and Disregarded

Flinging Muddy Dirt Clods at Bullying Schoolgirls

With Arsène During Epileptic Fit

Caring For Her Dying Mother


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