In 1857, an unemployed miller moves his family into grim lodgings; his wife takes in laundry. In February of 1858, at the Massabielle grotto, their 14-year old asthmatic, illiterate ...
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In 1857, an unemployed miller moves his family into grim lodgings; his wife takes in laundry. In February of 1858, at the Massabielle grotto, their 14-year old asthmatic, illiterate daughter, Bernadette, sees a light she later distinguishes as a beautiful young woman. The girl converses with the woman over the next few months. Crowds follow her and people are cured by the waters from a spring Bernadette has cleared. Secular authorities are threatened by the popular gatherings and subject the girl to police inquiry and medical review. The local monsignor is also skeptical, then becomes Bernadette's champion. She maintains her forthright simplicity and untutored wisdom throughout. Written by
Critically speaking ,this new version of Bernadette Soubirous' s life was greeted with a poor reception in its native France.Coming just after critically-acclaimed Alain Cavalier's "Therese" (de Lisieux) ,the movie got unanimous thumb downs.And yet what can you expect from Jean Delannoy ,Jean Luc Godard's favorite bete noire?This movie seems to have been made a long time ago.Delannoy,however, has always had spiritual concerns (Dieu a besoin des hommes,la symphonie pastorale)and I'm not sure that,at almost 90,he was trying to capitalize on Cavalier's success.
"Bernadette" did not deserve such a harshness.As Delannoy says in the cast and credits ,Bernadette was simplicity itself and that's what we tried to do here.A naive uneducated girl ,her answers to the shrinks ,the priests and the bourgeois were not unlike those of Joan of Arc during her trial:simple but witty.And I dig the last lines (A nun) -C'est ça Bernadette? (the Saint) -Oui,c'est ça!
Jean Delannoy was to continue in the pious vein with "Marie de Nazareth" but that last effort lacks even the humor we find in "Bernadette" and it was a disappointment.
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