25 user 19 critic

Providence (1977)

A dying writer bases his last book on his own perception of his family.


Alain Resnais


David Mercer
11 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Dirk Bogarde ... Claude Langham
Ellen Burstyn ... Sonia Langham
John Gielgud ... Clive Langham
David Warner ... Kevin Langham / Kevin Woodford
Elaine Stritch ... Helen Wiener
Cyril Luckham ... Doctor Mark Eddington
Denis Lawson ... Dave Woodford (as Dennis Lawson)
Kathryn Leigh Scott ... Miss Boon
Milo Sperber Milo Sperber ... Mr. Jenner
Anna Wing Anna Wing ... Karen
Peter Arne ... Nils
Tanya Lopert ... Miss Lister
Joseph Pittoors Joseph Pittoors ... An Old Man
Samson Fainsilber ... The Old Man


Clive Langham (Sir John Gielgud) spends one tormenting night in his bed suffering from health problems and thinking up a story based on his relatives. He is a bitter man and he shows, through flashbacks, how spiteful, conniving and treacherous his family is. But is this how they really are or is it his own vindictive slant on things? Written by Archie Moore <ar.moore@student.qut.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Movie of Rare Intelligence




R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This was Elaine Stritch's last movie until September (1987). See more »


[first lines]
Clive Langham: Damn. Damn. Damn... damn!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The National Philharmonic Orchestra is misspelled as National Philarmonic Orchestra in the opening credits. See more »


Referenced in The Empty Screen or the Metaphysics of Movies (2017) See more »

User Reviews

One of the Greats
2 October 1999 | by davidf33See all my reviews

A double header of complex imagination (first part) and painful recrimination (second part) in this film of deep feeling and hurt seen through the eyes of the dying author (John Gielgud). David Mercer's script includes all his life long angst of the relationship of father and son, although now in his final years fought out with more complex and participating female characters in the ghost of his dead wife, who doubles as his son's mistress (Elaine Stritch) and daughter-in-law (Ellen Burstyn).

The acting is pure poetry with John Geilgud at his refined best as the drunken and dying author in part celebrating his life of drunken womanising and in part regretting the pain that he has caused, in particular to his family. Dirk Borgarde performing the impossible task of being two imaginary characters and one real one with seemless effort. As the son of the dying author he carries all the pain and hatreds of the dying father both in the old man's fantasy and in his real life of inherited disillusionment. His relationship with his wife and mistress (in practice his mother! complex eh!) changes from the deeply loving to the perceive accusatory of the old man's increasingly drunken imagination.

Ellen Burstyn gives one of her finest film performances as the long suffering wife ,but in the end all the plaudits go to the writer. The style may be only that of the one-liner but each of them hits as an aphorism from the greatest of philosophical minds. The revolving characters of the final part of the authors dreaming make a bewildering tapestry of the imagination.

A fabulous movie, but one that will take many viewings to actually comprehend the complexities of it. Set that video!!

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Switzerland | France



Release Date:

9 February 1977 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Providence See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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