1941 in a small town in Nazi occupied France. Against the will of its elderly male and his adult niece residents, the Nazis commandeer a house for one of their officers, Lt. Werner von ... See full summary »
A French UN delegate has disappeared into thin air, sending reporter Moreau (Jean-Pierre Melville) and hard drinking photographer Delmas (Pierre Grasset) on an assignment to find him. Their only lead is a picture of three women.
In World War II, the widow Barny sees the Italian soldiers arriving in occupied Saint Bernard while walking to her job. Barny lives with her daughter and works correcting tests and feels a great attraction toward her boss Sabine. When the Germans arrive, Barny sends her half-Jewish daughter to live in a farm in the countryside and finds that Sabine's brother has been arrested and sent to a concentration camp. The atheist Barny decides to baptize her daughter to protect her and chooses priest Léon Morin to discuss with him themes related to religion and Catholicism and Léon lends books to her. Barny converts to the Catholicism and becomes closer to Léon, feeling an unrequited desire for him.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For years now,the over all theme of religion in cinema has managed to touch more than it's share of raw nerves,both in the U.S.A.,as well as Europe (does anyone remember the brou-ha-ha that was raised over Jean Luc Goddard's 'Hail Mary',back in the mid 1980's,or 'The Last Temptation Of Christ',in 1988,or even 'The Life Of Brian'in 1979?). Long before all of that,there was a film that I'm sure raised some folk's eyebrows in 1961. That film was 'Leon Morin,Priest'. The story concerns a newly widowed young woman known as Barny,played by Emmanuel Riva,who is a self avowed atheist,who is seeking advice from a local priest,named Leon Morin,played by (then)France's matinée idol,Jean Paul Belmando ('Breathless',and way too many to mention here). The time is world war 2,and the small village Barny lives in is being invaded by Germans,Italians & later,American soldiers. What starts out as a series of conversations on spiritual matters,turns to unrequited love,which turns more serious as the story unfolds. Jean Pierre Melville (who was generally more known for his film noir crime epics, such as 'Le Cercle Rouge','Le Samourai','Army Of Shadows',etc.)directs & writes the story & screenplay,based on the novel by Beatrix Beck, in a film that tests one woman's temptation for the heart of another man. The rest of the cast (unknown by yours truly)turn in fine performances. The crisp,black & white cinematography by Henri Decae makes real good use of light & shadow (especially if the print quality is good to excellent),and the use of distance between the two characters,which eventually merge closer as the story goes on. Not exactly top shelf Melville,but none the less,still worth a look. Most European prints of this film originally ran 130 minutes,but unfortunately,the North American distributed print clocks in at 117 minutes (including the newly printed re-issue edition). Spoken mostly in French,with a wee bit of German,with English subtitles. Not rated by the MPAA,this film contains some minor adult content,and a rude word,or two.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this