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A movie based on the Roman Catholic clergy & one would therefore believe the beliefs of that faith. Yet if that is true the title is wrong. Satan has never had a 'sun' & never will according to Christian beliefs. Although he does have the power to transform himself into an 'angel of light' & it would seem that this is what the title refers to. A technical difference you might say but the title should read 'Distortions Seen When Satan Is Your Eyes Source of Light'.
This show starts out with a Priest that has been under Satan's sway for sometime. I know that the popular vision is that he is 'zealous' but I believe it is far more 'vain glorious'. I was surprised it didn't start with him set in the arms of the church but from the very start all you hear from this man is that he is so put upon & his load is so heavy. That is, until, he decides to reveal his special power, his gift that will save another's life. Oh yes, he is this very special one that will lovingly give his life for another. He acts like no one before him had ever done this. 1/3 the way through the movie I was almost convinced they were portraying him as Bi-polar. Some may feel that this character is a typification of Jesus according to the scriptures but that I disagree with that. There is no 'my yoke is easy & my burden is light' in this man. It is always either the abject low of 'woe is me I bear great burdens' or the ecstatic high of 'I am extraordinarily gifted & will prove it in time'. His view of himself, the church & the role of both has been bent sometime ago. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread they say. This warped mind wants HIS PERSONAL round with Satan. That is unless he's crying to be let alone & not have to face spiritual trouble. What does this guy think service in the church is?
Notice his spiritual counselor, the one who is aware that he himself hasn't lived according to his faith's dictates & claims to see this marvelous gift that resides in the young man. Gee, I'd like someone that had succeeded in living in the light himself to evaluate my gifts. Check out the personification of Satan who says He had known him a long time. He became aware of the Priest he says, walking in the dark alone for so long & oh yes lay back & share a friendly kiss, a little communion from Satan. I guess it is totally possible to get a little microscopic 'body & blood' with a kiss on the lips.
As for his ability to SEE great trials ahead for a profligate woman that has committed murder. Well let's just say that doesn't qualify as a spiritual gift from god. All of his purported special gifts boil down to common sense for most self-aware adults. I believe his great act of self-sacrifice at the end is a deception arranged by the one he sold his soul to, which is Satan. This movie is a victory march for Satan & his ability to deceive even the ministers of light.
The acting is absolutely of the highest level. Gerard Depardieu keeps showing up in movies that showcase his talents. DANTON would be another he shines in. There was a TV movie called the Lady Musketeer a few years ago in which he played a Cardinal. Sandrine Bonnaire plays the fallen woman who commits murder & she is powerful in it. Maurice Pialat shows himself to be a class actor himself in the picture. A wonderful job of acting all around. I like the work put in on the storyline & don't either need or want a world view where there is no tragedy or senseless loss. This movie shows both but it does so in a great & grand manner. I loved it. If you liked Depardieu here, don't miss DANTON.
Father Donissan(Depardieu) starts work as a priest in a new parish,feeling unworthy of the role,plagued by self-doubts.The director,Maurice Pialat,plays the canon, Megrou-Segrai,his superior.He reassures Donissan,that although he has not the same intelligenceand discipline,the Holy Spirit has a role for him,"the spirit of strength is within you".Donissan "must climb to where God sees you or be lost".Alone in his room,he beats himself with a chain,tortured by questions about his role in God's plan.He says he would rather be sent to a trappist monastery in a humbler role.He disapproves of the canon's laxity and indulgence while looking to him for mentoring.
Mouchette(Bonnaire) a young girl of 16,is aware of her power to attract wealthy and older men to desire her,she is pregnant and has argued with her parents and run away to her lover,a doctor and aristocrat, the Maquis de Cadigan. He will not perform the abortion or run away with her and he gives her money instead.He allows her to stay the night and he is fatally shot by her in the morning when she aims an(unknowingly)loaded shot-gun at him.She washes away the blood from her shoes in a stream.The death is taken as suicide.Themes of good vs.evil play out through these 2 characters,the hedonist and the ascetic,the priest a saint or fool, and the unloved young girl.
Meanwhile Megrou-Segrai dispatches Donissan to a neighbouring parish,Etaples,to assist a retiring priest with confession.Preferring to travel on foot across countryside,he loses himself and has an encounter with Satan,who leaves his stamp of hatred and psychic penetration,on him.Now possessed of the burden of spiritual insight,he encounters the wanton and aimless Mouchette,an instrument of mutual salvation.Heforcefully engages her in soul-baring self-evaluation.Later,so filled with self-loathing she slices her jugular with a razor-blade.Donissan takes her body to the altar,using an old ritual,until her parents claim the body.Donissan is reassigned to a monasterydue to his indiscretions.He is later asked by a father to help with a son dying of meningitis,who, having died is miraculously brought to life by Donissan,wondering if it was God or Satan who did it.Donissan dies later while taking confession back at the monastery.
For those who know this was based on a novel by Bernanos, as was Diary of a Country Priest and Mouchette,both by Bresson. The themes in it call to mind Dreyer's Ordet.Piliat is an atheist losing his faith at age 14 but he finds in Bernanos a depth of spirituality worthy of Dostoevsky. His goal was to lay bare the interior motivations and feelings of his characters - the essence of a scene to him. To do that, the emotions needed to be fresh and authentic. To achieve that "proximity," Pialat worked within a more improvisational structure than virtually any other director. If a scene called for intense emotions, Pialat would first bully, torment, and physically threaten his performers until they were emotionally wrought so that the final product would reflect the "reality" of the intensity of the shoot. Pialat wanted an element of chaos and unpredictability in his films and used actors of intelligence who used instinct like Sandrine Bonnaire and Gerald Depardieu,using them in several of his films.You don't have to be religious to appreciate why this film won the Palm D'Or in Cannes 1987.The basic theme is whether it is God or Satan who rules the world.Piliat asks us to consider what is the essence of the human psyche or soul.The cinematography beautifully is attuned to the different characters.This is a great film and brought back into French cinema an underlying realism and search for truth.
The excel Spanish essayist, Ortega y Gasset said once. "The words are logarithms of things, images, ideas and thoughts, and so, just can be used like signs of values, and never like values."
This clever reflection has to do with this remarkable movie, an extraordinary and superb dramatis personae narrated in four movements, will make us to reflect around multiple issues in this confrontation between moral, ethics, good and evilness, faith and hesitation.
First movement: we realize about the tormented tribulations of a priest, who lives oppressed by the miseries of human condition, are mirrored through a zealous script based on Bernanos' novel.
Second movement: we have Mouchette, a sixteen years old who lives according her own patterns of behavior, and is pregnant by one of her two lovers and decides to murder him, a prominent Count, and as she had nothing to hide reveals the terrible secret to her other lover.
Third movement: Bernanos, smartly conveys us to a mythic through a dark forest in which we aware the priest who has had to undertake a long journey of 13 miles, meets a weird peasant in the middle of nowhere, and this sudden encounter will be decisive to speed his weak equilibrium based on what remains of devoted resignation and febrile sense of duty.
Fourth movement: we will assist to the expected encounter among this girl and him, who will mean for both a crucial twist of fate in their respective existences.
To appreciate will its admirable intensity this nothing to watch film I would suggest to watch or read, "Diary of a country priest" to widen the whole purpose of what it's nestled in this unusual film.
On the other hand, the minimalist narrative strle of Maurice Pialat is narrowly linked with Robert Bresson that it might be said this was a posthumous homage in life to this unique and talented filmmaker as well as Bernanons himself.
It's useless to remark the astonishing performance of Gerard Depardieu and the sensitive acting of the young promise by then Sandrine Bonnaire in this film which won deservedly La palm d' or in Cannes 1987.
I think to myself when will this film be released on DVD format?
This is certainly a difficult film, requiring both considerable concentration and familiarity with the less sunny, more tortured aspects of Catholic theology. The main character is a simple but saintly priest who is painfully aware of the sway that evil holds over the world and whose desire to liberate other souls from the clutches of the devil is so overwhelming that he is prepared to give his own soul in exchange. The paradox is that for this priest the devil is very real and tangible (he even dreams he encounters him in the form of a traveller while walking through the fields at night) while God seems disturbingly distant and inaccessible. His struggle against evil leads to constant self-torture, but is motivated by boundless pity for those whom the devil has cheated out of happiness and salvation. The dialogue is dense but can have an enormous impact. This is a very, very literary movie (which can put off quite a few viewers) based on a novel by the great French Catholic writer Georges Bernanos, which in turn was inspired by the real-life Jean M. Vianney, a parish priest in a tiny French rural village that is now revered as a saint. Not for everyone, but highly recommended for those interested in some of the most difficult issues raised by religion.
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