Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 3 April 2015

The Carmelites, 1960

A somebe choice for Good Friday: a 1960 French item, LE DIALOGUE DES CARMELITES, about those Carmelite nuns during the time of the French Revolution - The Reign of Terror! This is the same material for that opera by Poulenc with ends with the sounds of the nuns going to the guillotine ... its the same here but we barely see the instrument of death, as the nuns resigned to their fate, ascend the scaffold one by one, apart from one is has been saved, and who will carry on the order. Nun movies include our favourite BLACK NARCISSUS, and CONSPIRACY OF HEARTS and THE NUN'S STORY as well as more salacious items like Anita Ekberg's KILLER NUN, or Anne Heywood's NUN OF MONZA (reviewed recently, Heywood label), and of course Ken's demented THE DEVILS, a fascinating re-view recently (Ken Russell label), there is also the Polish MOTHER JOAN OF THE ANGELS, also circa 1960/61. We like Deborah Kerr's Sister Angela in HEAVEN KNOWS MR ALLISON (1957) and of course Ingrid was that jolly nun in THE BELLS OF ST MARY'S back in those innocent '40s. More saccharine nuns with Rosalind Russell's in the '60s and Loretta Young and Celeste Holm in COME TO THE STABLE in 1949, thankfully before my time.

Here we have the baleful face of the young Jeanne Moreau, compelling as ever, as Mother Marie, and Alida Valli as the superior who takes over from the dying old abbess Madeleine Renaud. Pierre Brasseur is the convent's chief enemy, and Jean-Louis Barrault plays a street mime. 
It all looks marvellously authentic, with those street scenes of the revolting peasants and new 'citizens' and that waiting tumbril ... We follow two new novices to the Carmelite order - Sister Blanche (Pascale Audret) and Sister Constance (Anne Doat) as they become brides of Christ, and then willingly became martyrs in the name of Christian faith and freedom of belief.  A reign of terror indeed. Directed by Philippe Agostini and R.L. Bruckberger, with great black and white images, from the Georges Bernanos play. Poulenc's opera is stunning listening too.

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