Close Up

3 December 2023: Take Two: Marianne of My Youth / Madhumati


Supakino presents a double bill of supernatural love stories from 1950s French and Indian cinema set amongst misty forests and mysterious mansions. Both films will be introduced by guest curator Ranjit S. Ruprai and include post-screening discussions between Ranjit and film critic Phuong Le.

Marianne of My Youth
Julien Duvivier, 1955, 105 min

On 25 March 1954, Peter de Mendelssohn received an unexpected telephone call from Paris to his home in Wimbledon. He was surprised to hear that Julien Duvivier wanted the film rights to his 1932 book Painful Arcadia: “This doesn’t have the makings of a film, I said. No-one could make a film with that. Not even Julien Duvivier. It’s a daydream, with no real plot. The events are barely suggested... You don’t make a film with children’s dreams.” Yet Duvivier, aided by his assistant director Marcel Ophüls, conjure up a cinematic reverie. The resulting Marianne of My Youth (Marianne de ma jeunesse) is a wonderful dream set in Bavarian forests and castles about a supernatural love seemingly doomed but ultimately hopeful.

Bimal Roy, 1958, 179 min

Madhumati was released in India in 1958 and became the highest-grossing Indian film of the year and one of the most influential Indian films of all time. Yet, in Bimal Roy’s award-winning career as a social realist filmmaker, Madhumati is often considered uncharacteristically commercial with its reincarnation love story set in an eerie mansion and misty hillside forests. Within this supernatural setting, however, are brutal feudal inequities and the exploitation of natural resources and indigenous people.  

Bimal Roy Productions was born in a double-decker bus, when Roy and his colleagues were returning home inspired by a screening of Rashomon at the Eros Cinema in Mumbai. It was the spirit of camaraderie between the key members of Bimal Roy Productions that created an ideal environment for creative collaboration. The extra layers within this iconic film are no doubt due to Roy’s collaboration with these greats of Indian cinema: music by Salil Chowdhury; lyrics by Shailendra; editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee; story by Ritwik Ghatak; and dialogues by Rajinder Singh Bedi.

Ranjit S. Ruprai is an independent programmer and supporter of indie cinemas, film festivals and film clubs in London. Since founding Supakino, he has been presenting film screenings around unusual themes including Turbans Seen on Screen, Bombay Mix double-bills and Midnight Excess late-night shows. Ranjit also speaks at film conferences about repertory/archive film exhibition, guest lectures at the National Film & Television School, and was Chair of the historic Rio Cinema, Dalston. Learn more at:" target="_blank">