When picking up his mail, a man is excited to see a letter from his sweetheart. His excitement turns to sorrow when he gets home to his flat and sees that it is a Dear John letter. But that... See full summary »


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When picking up his mail, a man is excited to see a letter from his sweetheart. His excitement turns to sorrow when he gets home to his flat and sees that it is a Dear John letter. But that sorrow turns to anger as he figures that he will send her a Dear Jane letter in return. However, writing that letter isn't as easy as he hopes as he encounters one problem after another, from a broken fountain pen, to a temperamental ink well, to stuck stamps, to a broken desk. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Short | Comedy | Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

1961 (West Germany)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film won two prizes in West Germany's film festivals in 1961: The International Film Critics Prize issued by FIPRESCI Jury, at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Filmfestival; and the First Prize at the International Short Film Festival, Oberhausen. See more »


Followed by Yoyo (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

RUPTURE (Pierre Étaix and Jean-Claude Carrière, 1961) ***1/2
11 September 2011 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

With this first encounter with 'forgotten' French comic Pierre Étaix – although, technically, I had already seen him via his atypical bit part in Robert Bresson's outstanding PICKPOCKET (1959) – I start a lengthy and much-deserved tribute to his collaborator on most of his early films – screenwriter extraordinaire Jean-Claude Carrière, who will become an octogenarian in a week's time (19 September 2011)! Having heard Étaix being most regularly compared to Buster Keaton (my all-time favorite solo comic) and Jacques Tati (whose distant personality I have never really warmed up to), I was unsure how I was going to feel after this ongoing and comprehensive 6-movie dive into Étaixville but, thankfully, my first choice (which is an 11-minute short I have only acquired a couple of days ago) could not have proved more satisfactory! Actually, I almost got to watch this on "You Tube" before even getting hold of a personal copy but, luckily, I came across a collection containing 3 Étaix short subjects that is evidently sourced from the restored DVD Box Set that had been released in France last year.

A young man (Étaix) braves the heavy city traffic while enraptured in his own thoughts of collecting the mail from the concierge. As he ascends the stairs, a young girl coming down looks longingly back at him but he barely notices her and her gaze turns sadly downwards. He does not even have the patience to hang his overcoat – which, when it falls to the floor after the peg starts 'acting up', he kicks in the closet – in his hurry to look at the letters, which he proceeds to throw in the wastepaper basket, except for the one he was expecting all along: clearly from his beloved, whose photo he bestows the pride of place on his desk – after having toppled it from its spot on the mantelpiece by blowing it a kiss! He is fussy about the letter: sniffing it and opening it diligently with a pair of scissors.

Finally reading the contents of the letter, it is his turn now to change facial expression from glowing anticipation to unbelieving realization and, as if to pinch himself into full acceptance, he digs into the envelope to extract a photo of him torn in half. Throwing the previously all-important letter and the envelope into the trash, he thinks for a second before taking out from his desk a pad of paper, a pen and a box of pen-points and prepares to write a letter to his former girlfriend. But, the break-up of his relationship seems to have an immediate effect on the world around him as no previously functional item of stationery will respond properly now: the fountain-pen 'swallows' a group of pen points, another pen point 'drowns' in the ink well, a large spot of ink from the pen blemishes the top page of the pad at first but his attempts to get rid of it only serve to successively blot all of them one by one right down to the last page.

Every time an item of stationery rebels against him, he discards it into the trash-can before moving onto the next one and, eventually, to another photo of the girl! He then proceeds to remove the girl's picture from the frame, rip it into several pieces and, as if to affirm their split, he takes out the scissors again but these too turn defiant...as do his own ultra-sticky saliva (which is able to seal his tie inside the envelope!) and, by extension, a series of stamps he tries to affix onto the envelope (one of which he ends up swallowing) that bring about the gradual destruction of his desk...but not before 'navigating' through completing the address on the envelope, at which exact point the ink well itself crashes to the floor!

Evidently worn down by the entire ordeal, he now opens a desk drawer and extracts a small pistol…but it is a false alarm since he only pulls out a cigarette from his breast pocket and proceeds to light it with the pistol! He is not yet desperate enough to take his own life and decides to stroll around his debris-strewn apartment to enjoy some well-earned rest in a rocking chair by the window but, unfortunately, he props himself too heavily down into it so that it sways violently backwards out of shot and when it comes back into view, it is empty – having plummeted Étaix right out the open window to his death! This is the single biggest laugh-out loud moment in the film; significantly, for a short that is virtually silent, the superbly enhanced sound design admirably reinforces the hilarious succession of brilliant sight gags. In hindsight, the Étaix persona on display here must have partly inspired Rowan Atkinson's most famous creation (Mr. Bean) and it is unsurprising that this movie eventually won two prizes at West German film festivals upon release: The International Film Critics Prize, issued by the FIPRESCI Jury, at the Mannheim-Heidelberg International Film Festival and the First Prize at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival.

P.S. Fifty years after the fact, it may seem somewhat inconceivable that a letter received in the mail and the excessive haste to send an immediate reply could possibly cause such consternation in the recipient. However, a couple of months ago I virtually found myself in the same predicament as the protagonist of this one – where my only possible means of communicating with a certain up-and-coming Israeli actress I met on a film set here in Malta was by writing her a letter (which I did but I never got a reply!) – and a dear female friend/colleague of mine could hardly believe it when I told her, exclaiming "But we're in 2011...who writes letters anymore?"

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