Archive for January 7th, 2011

by Allan Fish

(France 1966 140m) DVD2 (France only, no English subs)

Aka. The Nun

Chastity, poverty and obedience before God

p  Georges de Beauregard  d  Jacques Rivette  w  Jean Gruault, Jacques Rivette  novel  Denis Diderot  ph  Alain Levent  ed  Denise de Casabianca  m  Jean-Claude Eloy  art  Jean-Jacques Fabre 

Anna Karina (Suzanne Simonin), Liselotte Pulver (Madame de Chelles), Micheline Prèsle (Madame de Moni), Francine Bergé (Sister Saint-Christine), Francisco Rabal (Dom Morel), Christiane Lenier (Madame Simonin), Yori Bertin (Sister Saint-Thérèse), Gilette Barbier (Sister Saint-Jean), Charles Millot (Monsieur Simonin),

It was Rivette’s second feature, after the puzzling Paris Nous Appartient, and eschewed the nouvelle vague in favour of something altogether more structured, indeed rigorously so.  “This film is a work of imagination”, the opening caption informs us, “not a portrait of religious institutions, 18th century or other.  It should be viewed from a double perspective; history and romance.” 

            Based loosely on the Diderot novel of the period, La Religieuse is set in the mid 1700s and concerns Suzanne, the third daughter of a once wealthy couple effectively impoverished by providing dowries for their eldest two daughters.  As their third daughter, and now aged seventeen, she is being sent into the cloisters as a nun as they cannot afford another dowry to marry her off.  The overriding reason for this disfavour compared to her elder siblings is that she’s only a half sister to them, the illegitimate offspring of her mother’s amorous affairs, and as such with no chance of succour after her mother’s death.  After initially refusing to take her vows, she accepts only to not recall taking the vows themselves and causing an unholy scandal by trying to accuse the convent of cheating her into taking her vows when not of sound mind. (more…)

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