Providence (1977 film)

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Directed by Alain Resnais
Written by David Mercer
Starring Dirk Bogarde
Ellen Burstyn
John Gielgud
David Warner
Elaine Stritch
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Edited by Jean-Pierre Besnard
Albert Jurgenson
Release date(s) January 25, 1977
Running time 110 min.
Language English

Providence is a French/Swiss 1977 film directed by Alain Resnais and starring Dirk Bogarde, David Warner, Ellen Burstyn, Elaine Stritch, and John Gielgud. The film won the 1978 César Award for Best Film.

Plot summary[edit]

Over a drunken, tormented night, dying writer Clive Langham (Gielgud) struggles with the plot of a novel. The characters are based on Langham's own family, who are depicted as spiteful, treacherous and decadent. Langham makes these people interact in a variety of settings – courtrooms, mortuaries, werewolf-haunted forests. Although it is obvious that the writer's perceptions are distorted by bitterness and guilt, the extent of this is not made clear until the end, when the "real" family members come to Langham's house to celebrate his birthday.

Unusual elements in the film[edit]

The film contains a unique variety of visual techniques which illustrate Langham’s internal editing of his material. We watch one scene evolve, and after several minutes, Langham decides that the dialogue is all wrong. The scene is performed again with different dialogue accompanying the basic actions of the scene. The most unusual example of internal editing is a scene between Dirk Bogarde and Elaine Stritch. Stritch enters the frame on the left side through a door. The camera then follows the characters in one continuous shot as they walk to the other side of the room, as their conversation progresses. In the end, Stritch returns to the side of the room where the door was. Now the door is gone, and she must descend a flight of stairs for her exit from the scene.

Reception and influence[edit]


Awards and nominations[edit]

  • César Awards (France)
    • Won: Best Director (Alain Resnais)
    • Won: Best Editing (Albert Jurgenson)
    • Won: Best Film
    • Won: Best Music (Miklós Rózsa)
    • Won: Best Production Design (Jacques Saulnier)
    • Won: Best Sound (René Magnol and Jacques Maumont)
    • Won: Best Writing (David Mercer)
    • Nominated: Best Cinematography (Ricardo Aronovich)


  1. ^ John Gielgud, An Actor and His Times, Penguin Books (1981)
  2. ^ Emma Wilson. Alain Resnais. Manchester University Press, 2006. Page 138.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Monsieur Klein
César Award for Best Film
Succeeded by
L'Argent des autres