Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Diary of a Country Priest
Seeing this film for the first time, I have far less than a volume to say about it.
A young, frail and sickly priest arrives in a French countryside to take charge of a small parish. The translucent and radiant monochrome photography and the impassioned score captures the rhythms of the bygone era (perhaps the earlier part of the century) in this verdant region of vineyards and wineries. He is immediately involved with the leading family comprising the count, his aging wife who has never recovered from the grief of losing a young son, and a daughter simmering with anger and hate towards her family. The count is carrying on with the governess. The villagers are also hostile to the priest. He is the butt of ridicule of the children of the peasantry.
Apart from the visual beauty of the film and the fluid melding of frames and sequences, it is the under-dramatized account of the struggles of a courageous young man, in the final passages of his life, in a hauntingly beautiful but claustrophobic and evil environment.
The first view can only be a preparatory one for any great movie, certainly this one.
Bright Lights Film Journal