Léon Morin, Prêtre

Léon Morin, Prêtre


Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima mon Amour) and Jean-Paul Belmondo (À Bout de Souffle) star in this story of an unfulfilled love affair set against the troubled backdrop of the French Occupation. The film is based on the autobiographical novel by Beatrix Beck and adapted for the screen by Melville.

Barny (Riva) is a young widow. She is also a militant communist and atheist who one day enters a church and randomly picks a priest to taunt. Her target, Léon Morin, is a young, handsome and charismatic Catholic priest, unconventional in his religious approach. The two begin a platonic relationship, but soon Barny's admiration for Morin turns to desire and he becomes the object of her romantic obsession. Melville's original version of the film ran for over three hours but he re-cut it, relinquishing much of the historical background in order to focus on the unfulfilled love affair between Barny and Morin. Barny's thoughts and emotions are laid bare, in contrast to Morin, who remains somewhat remote and enigmatic. With an erotically charged performance from Belmondo, Léon Morin, Prêtre is Melville's most mainstream work and the closest he came to making a "woman's film".

Technical Specs

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Year: 1961
Country: France
Language: French
Duration: 115 min
Colour: B/W
Certificate: PG