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L'enfant secret (1979)

Four chapters based on the birth of a 'secret child', or a film, with chapter titles: "La séction Césarienne" (Caesarian section: a descriptive detail introducing the mother); "Le dernier ... See full summary »


Philippe Garrel


Philippe Garrel
1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Anne Wiazemsky ... Elie
Henri de Maublanc Henri de Maublanc ... Jean-Baptiste
Xuan Lindenmeyer Xuan Lindenmeyer ... Swann, Elie's child
Cécile Le Bailly Cécile Le Bailly ... Chloé
Elli Medeiros ... The whore
Philippe Garrel ... Psychiatric patient
Christian Päffgen Christian Päffgen ... Boy (as Ari Päffgen)
Benoît Ferreux
Eliane Roy Eliane Roy ... Jean-Baptiste's mother
Bambou Bambou
Edwige Edwige ... La prostituée (as Edwige Gruss)


Four chapters based on the birth of a 'secret child', or a film, with chapter titles: "La séction Césarienne" (Caesarian section: a descriptive detail introducing the mother); "Le dernier guerrier" (the last warrior: how the father sees himself); "Le cercle ophydique" (the serpent's closed circle: the couple reunites at the psychiatric ward); "Les forêts désenchantées" (unfairy forests: the film in the making). Written by Artemis-9

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Plot Keywords:

anthology | independent film | See All (2) »









Release Date:

18 October 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das verheimlichte Kind See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Élie: His father is an actor. I went to see him on the set of a film shortly after giving birth, and he said he would recognize the child, but he never did, and I never saw him again.
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Featured in Histoire(s) du cinéma: Les signes parmi nous (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

How the mind sees
21 December 2008 | by federovskySee all my reviews

I got my first camera – a chunky Voightlander - when I was 18. I used to develop and print roles of black and white film all night long in the garden shed. It took a while to get it right and so this small but significant section of life is depicted in washed out, contrastless photos that speak of something vague and ungraspable - the present as something already past - and more subtly, of failure and despair.

Garrel must have been onto this effect – I've never seen it used before – for that's exactly what we have here. The blurry, washed-out images are amazingly effective in conjuring up the gentle emotions of almost-ordinary moments. It's like picking random moments from a particular epoch of your life from ancient tapes, and watching thinking "God yes, that's how it was", when even the pattern that a lamp made on the wall, or the ordinary creak of a door in a seedy room brings it all back.

There's little coherent narrative or dialogue. A brooding, intense fellow is making a film – at times he sees things as if through the camera lens; his girlfriend has a fond attraction to a friend's child; he lapses into drug-induced derangement (stark, wordless hospital scenes of electric shock treatment); she loses her mother and lapses into drugs herself. Clearly these are autobiographical moments from Garrel's life and might be worthless but for the style with which they are represented.

We hear there is only one print of this in the world – in Garrel's possession, and it is rarely shown. It was, however, released for a while on DVD in Japan and I was lucky enough to come across one of those (no English subtitles). It's a special experience that is worth watching and rewatching as you go along, just as you often have to stop and re-read lines of poetry.

This is the vacuity of the past put on film; certain experiences that were so intensely real at the time that they became fictional even in the living of them, and, now remote, can only be grasped in underexposed, badly developed memories.

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