LEON MORIN, PRIEST

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
US release date: May 12, 2017

“Religion is the opiate of the people,” begins the confession of Communist widow Emmanuelle Riva (the late star of Resnais’ Hiroshima, Mon Amour), provocative just to get some fun in the drab little village where she’s been relocated during the Occupation. But when her confessor dryly replies “Pas exactement,” she begins a seemingly inexorable turn towards God – or towards her handsome confessor Père Jean-Paul Belmondo (in “an erotically charged performance” – BFI) Fed up with being “an auteur maudit known only to a handful of crazy film buffs,” Jewish atheist Melville accepted an offer of real stars and an actual budget to adapt Beatrix Beck’s autobiographical novel, a book he already considered “the most accurate picture I have read of life under the Occupation,” then had to talk an initially reluctant Belmondo – hot from Breathless  – into taking the title role.

Melville created a kind of fresco of the Occupation but its center is Riva’s confusing, fascinating, tantalizing encounter with God and his servant Belmondo (successfully intellectual, sincere, and ultimately enigmatic in a change-of-pace role), their mutual underplaying making even theological discussions subtly throbbing with emotional undertones. Shot by the great Henri Decaë (The 400 Blows, Elevator to the Gallows, Bob Le Flambeur, Le Cercle Rouge). This restoration of Melville’s never-before-seen director’s cut puts back 11 minutes excised from the original release version and will be shown at Film Forum, following the Melville centennial retrospective.


LEON MORIN, PRIEST (LÉON MORIN, PRÊTRE)
Directed by: Jean Pierre Melville
Cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Emmanuelle Riva
Year: 1961
Runtime: 130 min
In French with English subtitles
New 4K DCP restoration - U.S. Premiere of the complete director's cut

> Opens Friday, May 12 at Film Forum through Tuesday, May 30.
You can find more details here.

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