Léon Morin, Priest
(aka Léon Morin, prêtre)
Dir/ Scr: Jean-Pierre Melville
Orig story: Béatrix Beck
Cinematography: Henri Decaë
Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo,
Irène Tunc, Nicole Mirel,
1961 / B&W / 35mm / French
/ Eng Subtitles / ^115min
^ Amendment: Please note that the film duration is 115 minutes
The heroine in Léon Morin, Priest is a young widow and communist. Mourning her country and her husband, she is bereft of hope and has lost her faith. Does that wisp of light among the mist come from a rescuer’s flashlight, or gleamy scales of a prehistoric beast? Desperate, she cries, “Hey! You, you idling God, come out of there!” Out of there comes a dissolute priest with his arms held high. The axe has been swung but her head is not yet off – that is just too easy a way to go. A shadowy presence’s challenging God is nothing but self-overestimation. The heroine is played by Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour , 1959), and the priest the new, indescribable Jean-Paul Belmondo. His axe has accidentally landed on my heart which makes me watch the film over and over again, taking the painful experience to heart. With no expensive sets and heart-wrenching farewell scenes, Léon Morin, Priest is Melville’s first blockbuster and the most touching forbidden love affair I’ve ever seen.
Excerpt from Ivy Ho’s Prose on Films on WWII
||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
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