7.9/10
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24 user 19 critic

Providence (1977)

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

Director:

Alain Resnais

Writer:

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

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Cast

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 Tanya Lopert ... Miss Lister
Joseph Pittoors Joseph Pittoors ... An Old Man
Samson Fainsilber ... The Old Man
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A Movie of Rare Intelligence

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Switzerland | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 February 1977 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Провидение See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir John Gielgud, who spent most of his career on the stage, considered this movie and the television mini-series Brideshead Revisited (1981) to be his only two screen appearances of which he was genuinely proud. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in Zomergasten: Episode #7.4 (1994) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Playfully bizarre and thought provoking
9 December 2002 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

How often do we awake from our dreams in a sweat, not knowing what is real and what is illusion? Especially if we are feverish, our dreams can turn close friends or family members into ogres and hateful creatures (or possibly werewolves) who are bent on our destruction. Such is the case with novelist Clive Langham (John Gielgud), a dying 78 year-old writer who is working on his final novel in the playfully bizarre 1977 English language film, Providence, by Alain Resnais (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Last Year at Marienbad, Muriel). The film depicts how physical and mental anguish can distort our view of reality. A poetic screenplay by playwright David Mercer and powerful performances by John Gielgud, Ellen Burstyn, Dirk Bogarde, Elaine Strich, and David Warner provide strong support.

Clive does not go gentle into that good night. During one horrific night, all the pain of his life and disturbing family relationships boil to the surface. In the novel being played out in the author's mind, his family members, sons Claude (Dirk Bogarde) and Kevin (David Warner), and Claude's wife Sonia (Ellen Burstyn), mysteriously become the main protagonists, assuming roles as prosecutors and defendants, feuding spouses, and extra-marital lovers. As Clive goes deeper into the maelstrom, images become more and more hallucinatory. The denouement is witty, baffling, irritating, and then finally transcendent. To say that the ending is a surprise is a major understatement.

Providence may exasperate you but, if you have patience, it can be a richly rewarding experience. As with all thought provoking and multi-layered films, multiple viewing may be required for full appreciation. Providence was voted the greatest film of the '70s by an international jury of critics and, at Telluride, Norman Mailer called it "the greatest film ever made on the creative process".


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