1986. France. Alain Cavalier. 94 min.
Monday, November 11, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1
1986. France. Directed by Alain Cavalier. Screenplay by Cavalier, Camille de Casabianca. With Catherine Mouchet, Hélène Alexandridis, Aurore Prieto. Serene gray walls are the cloistered and abstracted setting for a series of exquisite tableaux in Alain Cavalier’s sensuous, spartan portrait of Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the world’s most cherished saints. In a film that won the 1986 Cannes Jury Prize and 1987 César for Best Film, a radiantly, obsessively committed Catherine Mouchet becomes the very embodiment of purity and grace as the “Little Flower of Jesus,” a teenage Carmelite nun who devoted her body and soul to Christ before her death in 1897 of tuberculosis, at age 24, and who was canonized 28 years later. Historian Marina Warner observed, “I think Thérèse is a rare and beautiful film... no film has ever before transmitted so involvingly the bliss the mystics describe of communion with God, the intense pleasure a saint like Thérèse felt at her intimacy with Jesus, the deprivation she experienced when He seemed to be absent and the comfort and affection of young women sequestered together.... Cavalier's visual style, the film's restrained spectrum, its dove grays, bistres, waxy whites, recall the quiet images Gwen John painted in Normandy of nuns reading, praying.... Cavalier has learned from Robert Bresson how to linger on an image, how to give symbolic intensity to humdrum objects, by isolating them in the frame, and gentle repetition.” Preserved by the Cinémathèque française. In French; English subtitles. 94 min.
In the Film exhibition To Save and Project: The 11th MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation
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