|Directed by||Alain Resnais|
|Written by||David Mercer|
|Music by||Miklós Rózsa|
|Editing by||Jean-Pierre Besnard
|Release date(s)||January 25, 1977|
|Running time||110 min.|
Providence is a French/Swiss 1977 film directed by Alain Resnais and starring Dirk Bogarde, David Warner, Ellen Burstyn, Elaine Stritch, and John Gielgud. The film won the 1978 César Award for Best Film.
Over a drunken, tormented night, dying writer Clive Langham (Gielgud) struggles with the plot of a novel. The characters are based on Langham's own family, who are depicted as spiteful, treacherous and decadent. Langham makes these people interact in a variety of settings – courtrooms, mortuaries, werewolf-haunted forests. Although it is obvious that the writer's perceptions are distorted by bitterness and guilt, the extent of this is not made clear until the end, when the "real" family members come to Langham's house to celebrate his birthday.
Unusual elements in the film
The film contains a unique variety of visual techniques which illustrate Langham’s internal editing of his material. We watch one scene evolve, and after several minutes, Langham decides that the dialogue is all wrong. The scene is performed again with different dialogue accompanying the basic actions of the scene. The most unusual example of internal editing is a scene between Dirk Bogarde and Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn enters the frame on the left side through a door. The camera then follows the characters in one continuous shot as they walk to the other side of the room, as their conversation progresses. In the end, Burstyn returns to the side of the room where the door was. Now the door is gone, and she must descend a flight of stairs for her exit from the scene.
Reception and influence
- The film won seven César Awards, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Editing, as well as the New York Film Critics Circle Award for John Gielgud.
- Although he was one of the preeminent theatre actors of the 20th century, Gielgud felt that this was his only completely successful attempt at film acting.
- The bipartite structure of Providence has been identified by critics as a precursor to David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997) and Mulholland Drive (2002).
- Dirk Bogarde as Claude Langham
- Ellen Burstyn as Sonia Langham
- John Gielgud as Clive Langham
- David Warner as Kevin Langham / Kevin Woodford
- Elaine Stritch as Helen Wiener
- Cyril Luckham as Doctor Mark Eddington
- Denis Lawson as Dave Woodford
- Kathryn Leigh Scott as Miss Boon
- Milo Sperber as Mr. Jenner
- Anna Wing as Karen
- Peter Arne as Nils
- Tanya Lopert as Miss Lister
Awards and nominations
- Bodil Awards (Denmark)
- Won: Best European Film
- César Awards (France)
- Won: Best Director (Alain Resnais)
- Won: Best Editing (Albert Jurgenson)
- Won: Best Film
- Won: Best Music (Miklós Rózsa)
- Won: Best Production Design (Jacques Saulnier)
- Won: Best Sound (René Magnol and Jacques Maumont)
- Won: Best Writing (David Mercer)
- Nominated: Best Cinematography (Ricardo Aronovich)
- French Syndicate of Cinema Critics (France)
- Won: Best Film
- New York Film Critics (USA)
- Won: Best Actor (John Gielgud)
- Valladolid Film Festival (Spain)
- Won: Golden Spike (Alain Resnais)
- John Gielgud, An Actor and His Times, Penguin Books (1981)
- Emma Wilson. Alain Resnais. Manchester University Press, 2006. Page 138.
|César Award for Best Film
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