The Long Absence

1961, Henri Colpi, France/Italy

Director: Henri Colpi
Producers: Alberto Barsanti,
  Claude Jaeger
Screenplay: Marguerite Duras,
  Gérard Jarlot
Cinematography: Marcel Weiss
Editors: Jasmine Chasney,
  Jacqueline Meppiel
Alida Valli (Thérèse Langlois)
Georges Wilson (The Tramp)
Charles Blavette (Fernand)
Amédée (Marcel Langlois)
Paul Faivre (Pensioner
Pierre Parel (Manager)
Catherine Fonteney (Alice Langlois)
Diane Lepvrier (Martine)
Nane Germon (Simone)

Rating: G Runtime: 94 minutes

A simple, linear narrative sets the scene for more complex layers of memory, illusion, and even delusion, to unfold in The Long Absence. The film was the directorial debut of French New Wave editor, Henri Colpi, who had previously worked with directors such as Agnès Varda and Alain Resnais. Colpi asked Margeurite Duras, who had written Hiroshima mon amour for Resnais, to write The Long Absence, and the two films occupy similar thematic territory — both teasing out stories of heartbreak and longing amidst the emotional rubble of World War II.
Set in a small French village, sixteen years after the end of the war, The Long Absence centers around a middle-aged woman (Alida Valli) who encounters a man she believes is her long-lost husband (Georges Wilson). It appears the man is suffering from amnesia and Thérèse attempts to draw his memories to the surface with increasing desperation, as she struggles through her lingering grief.

The Long Absence won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1961, alongside Viridana by Luis Buñuel, and was named by Akira Kurosawa as one of his 100 favourite films. When it opened in New York in 1962, Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times, “within its very simple exposition with beautifully formed and ordered scenes, a brilliant performance by Alida Valli and exquisite photography, it encompasses a world of feeling and drama”. In 2022, the film was featured as part of a Museum of Modern Art film series, ‘Forgotten Filmmakers of the French New Wave.”


Sep 09 2024


6:15 pm - 7:50 pm