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Under the Sun of Satan (1987)

Sous le soleil de Satan (original title)
TV-MA | | Drama, Fantasy | 10 February 1989 (USA)
A priest stuck in a rural congregation and burdened with his overwrought spirituality, finds purpose in a troubled woman accused of murder.

Director:

Maurice Pialat

Writers:

Georges Bernanos (novel), Sylvie Pialat (scenario) (as Sylvie Danton) | 1 more credit »
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2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gérard Depardieu ... Donissan
Sandrine Bonnaire ... Mouchette
Maurice Pialat ... Menou-Segrais
Alain Artur Alain Artur ... Cadignan
Yann Dedet Yann Dedet ... Gallet
Brigitte Legendre Brigitte Legendre ... La mère de Mouchette
Jean-Claude Bourlat Jean-Claude Bourlat ... Malorthy
Jean-Christophe Bouvet ... Le maquignon
Philippe Pallut Philippe Pallut ... Le carrier
Marcel Anselin Marcel Anselin ... Mgr Gerbier
Yvette Lavogez Yvette Lavogez ... Marthe
Pierre D'Hoffelize Pierre D'Hoffelize ... Havret (as Pierre d'Hoffelize)
Corinne Bourdon Corinne Bourdon ... La mère de l'enfant
Thierry Der'ven Thierry Der'ven ... Sabroux
Marie-Antoinette Lorge Marie-Antoinette Lorge ... Estelle
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Storyline

A priest stuck in a rural congregation and burdened with his overwrought spirituality, finds purpose in a troubled woman accused of murder.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

10 February 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Under the Sun of Satan See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

This is the third filmed adaptation of a Georges Bernanos novel. The first two were Diary of a Country Priest (1951) and Mouchette (1967) both directed by Robert Bresson See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Donissan: With you, everything looks easy. Alone, I'm useless. I'm like the zero, only useful next to other numbers. Priests are so miserable. They waste their lives seeing God being ignored. People make jokes on us. We're like those walls where people write obscenities.
Menou-Segrais: You're tired.
Donissan: Tired? I'm not tired. Tired is a bad thought.
Menou-Segrais: Suspend your visits.
Donissan: Those visits do more harm than good. In the beginning, I didn't know evil. I learned it from the mouths of the sinners.
Menou-Segrais: No one knows better ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in One Hundred and One Nights (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Intermezzo de la Symphonie No. 1
Music by Henri Dutilleux
Conducted by Serge Baudo
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Masterpiece of French Cinema
31 May 2003 | by paul_imseihSee all my reviews

I'm not quite sure what people mean when they say this film is "difficult". On the surface, the film has a very straightforward storyline of a priest (played brilliantly and movingly by Depardieu) struggling with his own demons that materialise internally and externally.

From this basic premise the film can be explored from several key standpoints to obtain real insights into subjects such as the power/source of faith, the relationship between thought/belief and one's relationship to the world we inhabit.

Moreover, the questioning employed by Pialat and Depardieu means that the path of thought through these issues is profound, intense and disturbing. The film provokes the intellect constantly and I could understand that if there was nothing more to the film, one might say that "is that it?"

What takes this film much further is the emotional undercurrent - both understated and abyssal, the stunning cinematography and restrained direction. These factors combine to create a complete cinematic experience.

One scene stands out in this respect: we watch the priest wander the countryside in a daze and he pauses on the side of a hill, lush with spring grass. Depardieu looks up, eyes searching for insight, an answer, a response. In a brilliant stroke of luck, passing clouds obscure the sun and Depardieu instinctively internalises this shifting light with a simultaneous passing of emotion portrayed through his face and posture. We watch both the internal shifting cloud of emotion and the changing light create a charge and intensity that is rarely seen in cinema. There is an element of the `unknowable' in this scene that still moves me, even after many viewings.

I also enjoy making comparison between this film and Dreyer's "Das Wort" (The Word), my favourite of Dreyer's works which has some common theme's, explored from different perspectives.

A truly great film, worthy of the Palme D'or it won.


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