Satan tempts Father Dossignan, who is trying to save the soul of a young girl who killed one of her lovers.
Satan tempts Father Dossignan, who is trying to save the soul of a young girl who killed one of her lovers.
"When it comes to hatin' Satan, Gerard Depardieu Gerard Depar-DOES, in this freaky French flick about a poky priest and his Gallic guilt-fest. You gotta see it to believe it!" - Gene Shalit [sixth and final draft]
For the longest time, I could not find a copy of Under the Sun of Satan. It was not available in the United States. But thanks to Cohen Film Group, they finally restored and released the film to the American audience. I was so stoked to finally see this film, I could barely contain my excitement. The verdict:
A film about a priest battling with doubt in his devotion to God seems interesting on paper, but when executed, the film is a confusing bore to sit through. The exquisite cinematography and the brooding film score are A1, but the dialogue...
This film literally consists of scenes of two people standing there having a dialectical conversation about faith and God,…
An ineffectual but impassioned priest's crisis of faith—though, fascinatingly, not in the typical sense of questioning the existence of God, but in wondering, among other things, whether Satan has already overtaken the world around him. Adapting Georges Bernanos's 1926 novel, co-writer/director Maurice Pialat shoots this religious drama with his usual unsparing directness; here's a religious conflict that takes place within a recognizable real world, albeit one captured with an eye for painterly visual beauty (courtesy of cinematographer Willy Kurant). And Pialat's emphasis on realism hardly constrains him from going for broke, most memorably in its final act, as Father Donissan's internal struggle is made devastatingly literal. The implications are utterly bleak at the end of his anguished journey...but here's a classic case of a film that transcends its pitch-black pessimism by the sheer animating force and ruthless clarity of its director's expression.
It might be my perverse contrarianism, but Under the Sun of Satan, Maurice Pialat's big Palm D'Or winner, is by far his worst film. I'd go even further and say it iinterests are mostly auteurist, a good bad film whose failures are fascinating when seen in context of Pialat's other work. Rivette has a point when he says the film is a losing proposition because the meeting of the devil could only be filmed in total darkness, that's true, rendering it physical makes everything literal, and that's what Pialat does throughout the film, every troubled metaphysical bit laid bare for all to see. Literal-minded Bernanos is kinda silly, I don't think there's much escape from that. It is a major…
If you were to imagine what Ingmar Bergman's Winter Light would have been if it were a more nightmarish vision of religious uncertainty then Under the Sun of Satan might very well be that result.
Maurice Pialat's Under the Sun of Satan retains that very sense of doom lingering from start to finish. Yet it still stays intact with Pialat's dialogue-heavy style, which only drives forth that unease being felt from Father Dossignan's point of view. But as one could expect from Pialat, it's also incredibly beautiful from start to finish - with Depardieu and Bonnaire bringing out some of their best performances yet.
Could already see this going up on a revisit, or maybe even upon further thought.
There were some great shots, but as a whole it was kind of a drag, despite the interesting premise and a fitting ambience. I have nothing against being so dialogue-heavy, but this just felt pretty repetitive and weirdly patronizing, with little spark of inspiration.
So cold and distant that I found it impossible to feel connection or affection for much of what happened, even though the subject matter was pretty intriguing. If nothing else, the suffocating atmosphere and its stylistic quality still left me with at least slightly memorable impression. Also Sandrine Bonnaire was amazing, I wish the film had been told much more from her character's point of view.
Liked it a lot more in theory than in the way it actually turned out to be. When it comes to films about a struggling priest, First Reformed still remains the number one for me.
I'm surprised I didn't have any nightmares after this... At the same time I'm terrified to watch this again but I feel strangely that it is my responsibility. There's strange darkness that lurks in this film, the lighting is hazy and the settings are solidified and lifeless. Characters constantly turn their faces and prayers towards something bigger and I'm not exactly sure who this bigger is but I'm afraid it is the one referred in the title... I can definitely say only after two films that Pialat is one of the greatest directors who have ever walked on this Earth.
Diary of a Self-Mortifying Priest
Didn't catch Georges Bernanos in the credits, but naming a character Mouchette and having a priest that can be seen writing twice helps a lot in creating a frame of reference for what Pialat is going for. But while Bresson is all about the internal struggle, Pialat makes this about the external struggle, as Father Donissan is literally confronted with perhaps not one but two devils (one of which is awkwardly homophobic). My strong Catholic background proved helpful for understanding how and why Donissan becomes obsessed with the external world instead of the spirit, almost like an anti-St. Augustine. He is a character obsessed with the body and seeing it as some sort of punishment…
Au sortir de deux semaines de cinéma muet, revenir vers le cinéma parlant avec ce film était un geste dont je mesurais peu la violence..."Dieu nous use". "La sagesse est le vice des vieillards". La prose de Bernanos derrière les dialogues est sublime et richement complexe. C'est l'histoire d'un prêtre de campagne qui se découvre des dons surnaturels dont il maîtrise d'abord mal la portée et l'impact. Davantage, c'est une mise en scène sur la passion pour Dieu telle que son exigence se pose à la façon d'une conscience que l'on craint de trahir, alors que Satan nous incite toujours et déjà à se sentir vaincu, à succomber à cette autre passion qu'est le désespoir et dont il est le…
Rien de plus banal que de rencontrer Satan sur notre route: il prendra les allures les plus familières et viendra nous apporter secours, un peu de repos, au moment où nous sentons nos forces s'écouler. Fort probable que nous n'allons pas le reconnaitre immédiatement, tant il pourrait s'agir de notre voisin, ou d'un double de nous-mêmes que nous tardons à identifier. C'est Dieu qui est invisible, une absence qu'il faut accepter comme telle pour en découvrir la présence, ce qui La rend si facile à trahir, le moindre tressaillement de notre cœur suffisant à nous faire flancher, à faire monter la tentation du désespoir. Satan ce n'est pas le Mal, au sens d'une action commise contre un autre humain, comme…
Pialat adapts a novel by Georges Bernanos, the same author who had penned Bresson's Mouchette and Diary of a Country Priest, so you know it's going to be some dark, intensely soul-searching stuff.
Under the Sun of Satan is like a bleaker, more pessimistic version of Bergman's Winter Light and that wasn't exactly a joyous film to begin with, Gérard Depardieu's rural priest having his faith tested during a spiritual crisis that leads him down a grim path of unsettling evil. Pialat, an atheist, isn't so much exploring faith as he is questioning it with enormous severity and rigorous scrutiny, we see how one man's asceticism, exacerbated by a cloistered existence of conformity can in fact drive him down the…
I love the look and colors of this film. Felt like a gothic religious noir. The pace and tone seem a bit off to me at times. It's easy to see its influence in films like First Reformed. The ending was quite poetic I thought, and I appreciate the struggle of faith.
⛓ ⛪️ ⛓
Like a Bressonian wet dream sans the hand fetish.
A strange dark fantasy that has an incredible performance from Depardieu.
Conceptually interesting but dense, and unengaging for the most part. It gives the impression of a precursor to the modern horror of Eggers or Aster (especially the latter, given the overt religious themes), but lacking much of the impact or relatability.
watched during 2020 COVID-19 quarantining for the first time.
I was surprised by how dense and lyrical this Pialat entry was. It makes for a sometimes confusing and often times compelling moments.
That one scene had me like 👁👁
A unique film, where nearly every scene ends with some sort of surprise. You really can't anticipate it's trajectory or its mysterious intent. Magnificently surreal, almost inexplicably in some parts, feeling like a Bergman film, but never holding back. The scene where he meets the devil gave me chills (was it the devil? who knows) and the end was masterfully interpretable.
I'm sure this is a much better film than my star rating implies, I'm also pretty sure that I'm maybe just not that into Georges Bernanos (I gave this the same score as Diary of a Country Priest, so make of that what you will). That said, I'm also not entirely convinced that this material plays to Pialat's strengths. His typical raw, unvarnished naturalism is an odd fit with all the portentous (if often rather beautiful, and perhaps even profound) philosophical dialogue, regardless of how excellent Depardieu and Bonnaire's performances may be. You can still tell it's a Pialat film, though, because there are some pretty wild ellipses . . .
Il me faudra prendre un peu de recul, et le revoir, et tenter de me replonger dans le livre, pour mieux pénétrer la complexité du film.
La photographie est remarquable ; ces jeux de lumières, de clair-obscurs, ces surcadrages... Lumières et ténèbres dans l'image, à l'image du combat intérieur invisible.
Quelques plans sont extraordinaires mais l'ensemble reste empreint d'une grande simplicité, j'aime assez.
The typical (but electrifying) fury with which Maurice Pialat makes his films is still present in Under the Sun of Satan, but with a composure and blank faced intensity that renders spiritual violence as harrowing as the physical trials that the characters endure. Gerard Depardieu, in all of his inwardly turbulent glory, plays Father Donissan, a priest who senses failure and evil more completely than his unshakeable faith and noble vocation would have your typical viewer believe. Pialat plays his superior, Father Menou-Segrais, a direct contrast to Donissan, who seems to live his life in a come-what-may matter (a characterization that itself contrasts with who Pialat was reported to be -- pugnacious, unkind, difficult to work with). Beauty comes at…
I prefer Pialat's naturalistic take on daily characters and their interactions to this movie's light v dark symbolic struggle.
Esti, c’est dans ce’l’là qui disent «petite salope»!
C’est un miracle que Bonaire se fasse pas gifler une fois...
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