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CELESTE

West Germany, 1981 (MIFF 1982)

Director: Percy Adlon

In the beginning, he referred to her only as "Madame". Then, for the first time and for all time, he called her "my dear Celeste". The words "my dear Celeste, today I have written — The End", are among the most important words heard in this enduring drama of silence.

Celeste Albaret, upon whose statements the film is based, is from the small village of Auxillac in the Massif Central. In 1913, she married and moved to Paris with Odilon Albaret, who was, at that time, the chauffeur of writer Marcel Proust. Thus she became Monsieur Proust's housekeeper. She remained with him for nine years, until his death on November 18,1922.

Celeste could not know that this over-sensitive man, ailing of asthma, was about to produce one of the most important works of the 20th Century, the 4000-page novel A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. It was not until 50 years later, aged 80, that she could bring herself to speak about the deepiy-affecting time she spent with him.

The film is based on the last few months of Proust's life. This period of time is interwoven with Celeste's memories or associations of the past eight years. Thus a combining of scenes, facets and colors makes for a portrayal of an uncommon co-existence: the dedication of a country girl to an intellectually-creative man; the dedication of a writer to his work — a self-consuming process.

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