India Song

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
India Song
India Song.jpg
Film poster
Directed byMarguerite Duras
Produced byStephane Tchalgadileff
Written byMarguerite Duras
StarringDelphine Seyrig
Michael Lonsdale
Mathieu Carrière
Claude Mann
Vernon Dobtcheff
Didier Flamand
Françoise Lebrun
Music byCarlos d'Alessio
CinematographyBruno Nuytten
Edited bySolange Leprince
Release date
  • 4 June 1975 (1975-06-04)
Running time
120 minutes

India Song is a 1975 French drama film directed by Marguerite Duras. India Song stars Delphine Seyrig, Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Carrière, Claude Mann, Vernon Dobtcheff and Didier Flamand. The film centres on Anne-Marie (Seyrig), the promiscuous wife of the French ambassador in India, and was based on an unproduced play written by Duras (which itself was based on her published novel Le Vice-Consul). Although set in India, the film was shot mostly on location in a mansion in Paris.

The film was followed by a sequel Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert in 1976.


Anne-Marie Stretter (Delphine Seyrig) is the wife of the French ambassador in India in the 1930s. Growing bored with the oppressive lifestyle she leads, she begins to compulsively sleep with other men to alleviate her situation. The Vice-Consul of Lahore (Michael Lonsdale) fails in his attempts to begin a love affair with her. Her husband knows of her indiscretions, but is tolerant of her promiscuity.


The film was shot at the Palais Rothschild in Boulogne.

The script for India Song was based on an unproduced play which Marguerite Duras finished in July 1972.[1] The play had been commissioned for the Royal National Theatre by Peter Hall.[2] Duras had only visited India briefly in her teens, but chose to not watch any photographs from Calcutta while she worked on India Song, preferring to imagine it all.[1]

The film cost 254,542 francs to produce, of which 250,000 came from the CNC. Dominique Sanda was the first choice for the leading role, but dropped out and was replaced by Seyrig. Finding the main location took several months; eventually Duras chose the Palais Rothschild in Boulogne, which she had seen during a walk and which had impressed her. The Rothschild family had abandoned the building after World War II and it had started to dilapidate. Other scenes were shot at the Grand Trianon in Versaille, and in two Paris apartments which were about to be demolished. Filming started May 13, 1974 and lasted two months. The voices were pre-recorded.[1]


India Song was shown as part of the 1975 New York Film Festival,[2] and was shown out of competition at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival.[3] It was released in France on June 4, 1975.[4]


Vincent Canby, writing for The New York Times, reviewed the film in a negative light, finding that it was aesthetically pleasing but shallow. Canby described India Song as "no content and all style", although he felt that Seyrig's portrayal of Anne-Marie was "marvelous to contemplate".[2] Clarke Fountain, reviewing the film for Allrovi, rated it four out of five stars.[5]

India Song was nominated for three César Awards in 1976—Best Music Written for a Film for Carlos d'Alessio, Best Sound for Michel Vionnet, and Best Actress for Delphine Seyrig. However, the film did not win in any of the nominated categories.[6] It was France's submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 48th Academy Awards, but did not receive a nomination.[7]

Today the film is seen more favourably by critics and it is included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, where Travis Crawford cites it as the director's best film, describing the film as "fascinating" in its use of language and sound in contrast to imagery, and calling it an "elliptical dream poem rather than linear narrative".[8] However, he acknowledges that opinions are markedly divided on the film and that viewers will either find it "hypnotically seductive or maddeningly pretentious". Michael Lonsdale considers his part to be his "most favorite role", adding that "it helped me exorcise the suffering I was going through at the time in my personal life".[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Adler 2006, pp. 292–295
  2. ^ a b c Canby, Vincent (October 8, 1975). "Movie Review - India Song - Marguerite Duras's 'India Song,' a Four-Hankie Story". The New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes - From 16 to 27 may 1975". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  4. ^ "India Song". AlloCiné (in French). Tiger Global. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  5. ^ Fountain, Clarke. "India Song - Cast, Reviews, Summary and Awards". Allrovi. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  6. ^ "Académie des César". Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma. Retrieved October 10, 2011. Site does not support direct linking to search results. Search "India Song" for results.
  7. ^ Osborne, Robert (1976). Academy Awards, 1976: Oscar Annual. E S E California. ISBN 0-912076-22-4.
  8. ^ Schneider, Steven Jay (1 October 2012). 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die 2012. Octopus Publishing Group. p. 598. ISBN 978-1-84403-733-9.
  9. ^ Goodman, Lanie (December 3, 2010). "Actor Michael Lonsdale Shines in 'Of Gods and Men'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 10, 2011.

External links[edit]