Venice Film Festival organizers refused to screen the movie because it could have offended the Roman Catholics. They changed there decision and showed the movie with no offenses from Catholics. It then took home an award. See more »
God needs men,and Delannoy needs restoring to favor.
Shall I tell once again that the new wave,by putting down former talents ,was not always the holy writ?
Once again, a movie crying to be seen!The story is absolutely original and even a risqué one for 1950:the island of Sein,in the ninetieth century,in Brittany.A crude population lives here,on these windy shores ,estranged from the rest of the world.No priest comes here anymore,because they are sinner,wreckers.So the sacristan (Pierre Fresnay)will act as a priest.The inhabitants from the island do need religion,even if theirs is close to superstition.And they do believe in their new officiant,even if the latter does not dare to do everything a priest does(the sacraments).But little by little ,he would ,were it not for the coming of a true religious figure,escorted by... gendarmes.
The movie can be interpreted as a critic of the bourgeois,organized religion,a return to the pristine, primitive faith of the first Christ followers.The OCIC (international catholic cinema office)made no mistake when they awarded Delannoy's movie their prize in Venice. Sometimes the irony and the fierceness of the lines do not fit well with Delannoy's conventional(not meant pejoratively)directing.I would go as far to say that some scenes recall ...Bunuel.But there's a crucial difference:Delannoy's faith cannot be denied:he preaches a religion which would come from the heart,whereas for the Spanish director,religion is a nuisance to live with at home.Far from being a blasphemy,the funeral without a priest becomes a communion with God,the sea being the mediator.The pictures of the boats sailing away from the so-called civilized Christian world are admirable.
There's an impressive cast apart from Fresnay:Madeleine Robinson,Sylvie,Daniel Gélin,Germaine Kerjean,Daniel Ivernel and more.Actually,they should speak the Breton language (which a non-Breton French cannot understand at all),but,as it would take subtitles, all the actors use a very pronounced accent,which makes their renderings convincing.One can sometimes regret a theatrical side,but it's a minor flaw.
Nowadays in France,Jean Delannoy 's work is ignored or despised.Turn your back on the official criticism and watch this movie.You will not regret it.
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