Skip to main content


France / Italy, 1961 (MIFF 1963)

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

Grenoble, 1940: a French provincial town during the Occupalton. A young widow with a child, anti-religious and Marxist, is discontented with her life. One day partly through boredom, partly through disgust with the conventional piety of church-goers, she enters a confessional and insults the young priest. His reaction surprises her; calmly he offers to lend her books to study. They meet many times and the priest goes about his task of helping her in a manner calculated to break down the barriers between them. A conversion follows. But when she declares her love for him, he remains emphatically a man of God, and despite her emotional stress, she comes to understand that she must live without him.

Jean-Pierre Melville, the director, has treated this difficult theme with great directness, tact, and unstrained intensity. With a few strokes, he sketches in the Occupation atmosphere which does so much to contribute to the emotional upheavals of the plot. The camerawork brilliantly suggests the atmosphere of closed doors and unheated rooms, as well as providing the exact low-key neutral background necessary for the development of the relationship between Barny and Morin. But the film shines most particularly by the direction of the actors. Emmanuele Riva is excellent and Jean-Paul Belmondo gives an unforced, completely serious, and extremely moving performance. Award: City of Venice Prize, Venice Film Festival.

See also...


“In Rivette-land, there is no life without art and vice versa.” - Screen International ... For Kate, a broken-down car and a broken-down life both get a jump start from a chance roadside ... More »


Le Feu Follet is about suicide. lt is an adaptation by Malle himself of a short novel, originally pub­lished in 1931, recounting the last twenty-four hours in the life of Alain, an ex -playboy ... More »


The Man Without A Face is a daring criminal who can assume disguises as readily as Sherlock Holmes. No-one knows what he really looks like, not even the woman who loves him and is his partner in ... More »


To an 18th century Spanish province in South America comes an Italian company of "Commedia dell'arte" players headed by-Camilla, the richly temperamental star of the troupe. Camilla is half in love ... More »


Judex is a homage to the past in the form of a remake of Louis Feuillade's twelve episode serial of 1916. As an affectionate tribute to this forgotten genius whose films numbered about 550. Franju ... More »


The episodes of this porte-manteau film are based on three stories by Edgar Alan Poe. ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director