Les Abysses

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Les Abysses
Directed by Nikos Papatakis
Produced by Nikos Papatakis
Written by Louis Jouvet
Jean Vauthier
Starring Francine Bergé
Colette Bergé
Cinematography Jean-Michel Boussaguet
Edited by Edwige Bernard
Distributed by Lenox Films
Release date
  • 19 April 1963 (1963-04-19)
Running time
90 minutes
Country France
Language French

Les Abysses is a 1963 French film directed by Nikos Papatakis. It was entered into the 1963 Cannes Film Festival.[1] A violent and surrealistic mixture of farce and social commentary, its story was inspired by the real-life case of the Papin sisters.


Michèle and Marie-Louise (played by sisters Francine and Colette Bergé) are alone in the country house owned by their employers, the Lapeyres. They have not been paid any wages for three years, but the Lapeyres have promised them ownership of the chicken-house attached to their property; now, however, they intend to sell it entirely, leaving the girls with nothing. Michèle and Marie-Louise argue, fight and make up, meanwhile allowing the house to fall into ruin. Suddenly the Lapeyres return, earlier than expected. The girls rebel, disobeying the Lapeyres and tormenting them, especially their adult daughter Elisabeth, who appears to have a lesbian attachment to Marie-Louise, though she is married. Her husband Philippe arrives, bringing with him buyers for the house; Michèle and Marie-Louise are cowed into submission and serve coffee while the deal is signed. Once this is done, however, they break out again, first locking themselves in the kitchen quarters then attacking Elisabeth and Mme Lapeyre and murdering them with a kitchen knife and a flat iron. The film ends with a caption, making explicit reference to the Papin sisters.



  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Les Abysses". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 25 February 2009. 

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