Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Widow of St. Pierre

I was chatting with Poetikat about how much we both adore the film
The Widow of St. Pierre, a French film set in 1840's New Foundland.
Starring the fabulous Juliette Binoche, who seems to be the star of the
week over here at the Manor, and the oh, so handsome French actor,
Daniel Auteuil. This true story is about a captain of the guard and his
wife, who adopt as their protege a sweet and gentle man, who has
committed a meaningless murder. As they wait for the arrival of the
guillotine from France, the captain's wild and unconditional love for
his wife results in his own destruction. The gentle giant of a prisoner
is expertly portrayed by the talented Yugoslavian director, Emir
Kusturica. The excellent screenplay, costumes and breathtaking
scenes of the islands and sea are an added bonus to celebrated
filmmaker Patrice Leconte's wonderful ability to allow the stellar
talent of these veteran actors to carry the film. WT fondly calls me
his "an iron fist in a velvet glove", but I think the phrase is perfect
to describe Juliette Binoche in this role. She is the perfect melding
of softness and strength, as the benevolent wife of the captain.
There is also a poignant irony in this film, in the fact that the
townspeople dub the guillotine the widow. This exquisite, slow
moving, period piece is filmed in French with English subtitles,
which in my opinion, adds to the authentic history and romance.
It's perfect, absolutely perfect; a story of redemption, forgiveness
and true love.
And a little interesting side note, the ship that brought the guillotine
was played by the Gazela Primeiro, a Portuguese fishing vessel,
which now lives at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia. I was fortunate
enough to see it in May while visiting my daughter.

Gazela Primeiro, Penn's Landing, Philadelphia

photo by Willow


  1. Hi Willow! Found you via Rima. What a wonderful place you have here. So glad I peeped in this particular door. I'll definately be popping by again!

  2. Hi Willow,

    I am being a very sorry blog reader right now what with my mum here, trying to work a bit everyday and all that brings. But I wanted you to know I will be mailing your prize tomorrow :)

  3. Wonderful tribute to a wonderful film, Willow. I hope you don't mind if I correct you on an important detail. The story takes place on the French island(s) of Saint Pierre et Miquelon. "Saint-Pierre & Miquelon is South of the Canadian province of Newfoundland, about 800 miles North East from Boston."
    The prison sequences were filmed at the Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (just a hop, skip and a jump down the road from my mother's hometown of Glace Bay.)

    I really must watch this again, especially as we've just recently bought that new 37" hdtv.


  4. Kat, yes, thanks. You are definitely more of an expert on this film than I am!

  5. That's a vessel I would love to see. How fortunate that both of you actually saw it.

    Thanks for your comment on my ~Palm Reader~ post. Yes, we're having a great holiday, thank you.

    We'll be home in about 24 hours, so `normal' blogging service will resume shortly after!

  6. Willow....this film sounds intriguing...I do enjoy watching Juliette Binoche in most anything...

  7. Ciara, thank you! And welcome to the Manor! Rima is the greatest. I'm glad you wandered over here from her place.

    Sarah, no worries! You have had a very full schedule with your mom being in town.

    Kat, we got a 37" HDTV a few years ago and it was so much fun to watch all my widescreen DVD's...just like seeing them at the theater...only better! Yes, you will have to watch this one again soon.

    David, glad to hear your holiday is going well! You have kept up with your blogging, so it doesn't even seem like you've been gone.

  8. I've rushed right over to Netflix and tossed it into my queue. Thanks for another intriguing recommendation.

  9. Heavy estrogen post my friend....but it was interesting none the less! Blessings.

  10. French Island? My mother grew up on French Island - a small island located in the Mississippi River adjacent to the city of La Crosse, Wisconsin. The island was settled by the French in the mid-1800's.

  11. You know, I have wanted to see this movie for ages, and now I'm going to tell Joe we should add it to our netflix queue. Thanks for the description of it. It sounds beautiful! Right up my alley! Amazing you were able to see that ship!

  12. Willow - I'm no expert. I knew they were French islands, off the coast of Canada, but had no idea it was Newfoundland. I googled it and got the info. I did not even know it was Louisbourg I was looking at as I watched the film. (Mind you,I had not been there since I was 7, the fortress had only been partially restored and it was a very foggy day. Ha ha.


  13. Kat, I appreciate your input! :)It's amazing how little we Americans know of the geography of our great neighbors to the north.

  14. Strider, well, I think you could probably say that yesterday's post was a little heavy on the testosterone, so I'd say we're just balancing things out over here. ;)

  15. Willow, it looks like Netflix will now become beseiged with requests for this one! I'm heading over in a bit to update our queue as well! This looks like a movie we would love..
    Have you seen the film, "Ridicule", with Fanny Ardant, Jean Rochefort and Charles Berling? Fantastic movie!

  16. Yes, I saw this very moving and slightly upsetting film.
    You have excellent taste in movies!

  17. Rebecca, no, "Ridicule" is a new one for me...I'm off to IMDb to check all three of these actors!

  18. Ah, this sounds like a movie I'd adore seeing! Thanks for the recommendation. I love foreign films, although most we view are Italian, so I'm usually the only one reading the sub

    When were were on a cruise for a special anniversary we went up the north Atlantic and stopped for a day at Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Absolutely gorgeous rustic land with the friendliest people I have ever met! I wish I had a digital camera back then as the scenery on that cruise -- Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, the St. Lawrence River to Quebec was amazing! Maybe someday I'll scan soem of my photgraphs and blog about it.

  19. I saw this movie a while ago and didn't realize that it was Binoche at the time. I just kept watching for the scenes that were obviously shot at Louisbourg. The fortress is fully restored now and animated with actors playing their historic roles:

    It's funny that the film has a Nova Scotia connection and that Louisbourg is not too far away from 29 Black Street. The bloggy world is both small and wide.

    cheers, Mlou

  20. Beautiful ship. Where do you come up with all these bottom shelf movies? I call movies you find on the bottom shelf at the video store bottom shelfers. I find most of them to be better than the main stream productions. Pappy

  21. Mlou, that's very interesting! I'm surprised that Susan didn't mention it! Hey, Susan, have you seen this movie?

    It would be fun to see the old fortress.

  22. Pappy, the "bottom shelfers" are usually the ones I like the most.

  23. I am betting Husband has seen this film .. but I will ask and if he hasnt I am asking him to put it in his Netflix queue!


  24. What a wonderful home,how cosy it would be to sit there and drink tea. I have seen you about as I have been catching up with the Blogsphere, unfortunately I have been away for a couple of months.I hope you don't mind me popping by. Wonderful blog you have here, also haven't seen the film but must make a point of doing so.

  25. hey Willow, I haven't seen this movie, in fact I'd never heard of it and I'm ashamed to say I've also not been to Louisbourg - it's a part of Nova Scotia that I've just never made it to. I did however make a virtual trip, a la cyber world, after a phone chat this aft. with MLou. cheers from hot & sunny NS. xo S, Winn & Les Chats

  26. this movie sounds captivating. i so enjoy your descriptions of movies. and, i noticed right off the bat that this one starred juliette again. you are on a kick!!

  27. Now this is a movie I haven't seen and only vaguely had I heard of it. But if it's starring Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche, I'm there! Sounds just up my street.

    Thanks for the lovely post!

  28. I've not heard of this movie and wonder if I could even rent it here? Anyway, loved Juliette Binoche in "Dan in Real Life."

  29. Strider's comment is so funny! LOl. I just read it.

  30. Mmm, yes, I'm sure you can rent it here in the US. In fact, I first saw it after checking it out from our local library. I liked it so much that I bought myself a copy.

  31. Must.See.This.Movie! Thanks for the tip!


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)