Pola X

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Pola X
Pola X (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLeos Carax
Screenplay byLeos Carax
Jean-Pol Fargeau
Based onPierre: or, The Ambiguities
by Herman Melville
Produced byBruno Pésery
StarringGuillaume Depardieu
Yekaterina Golubeva
Catherine Deneuve
CinematographyEric Gautier
Edited byNelly Quettier
Music byScott Walker
Distributed byAMLF
Release dates
  • 13 May 1999 (1999-05-13) (Cannes)
  • 7 October 1999 (1999-10-07) (Switzerland)
  • 9 December 1999 (1999-12-09) (Germany)
  • 19 September 2001 (2001-09-19) (France)
Running time
134 minutes[1]
Budget$11 million
Box office$791,919[2]

Pola X is a 1999 French drama film directed by Leos Carax and starring Guillaume Depardieu, Yekaterina Golubeva and Catherine Deneuve. The film is loosely based on the Herman Melville novel Pierre: or, The Ambiguities. It revolves around a young novelist who is confronted by a woman who claims to be his lost sister, and the two begin a romantic relationship. The film title is an acronym of the French title of the novel, Pierre ou les ambiguïtés, plus the Roman numeral "X" indicating the tenth draft version of the script that was used to make the film.

The film was entered into the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.[3] Pola X has been associated by some with the New French Extremity.


Pierre lives a carefree life with his widowed mother in a chateau in Normandy, writing his second novel and roaring off on his father's old motor bike to sleep with his fiancée Lucie in her parents' chateau. In a bar he sees his stockbroker cousin Thibault, who says he can always stay in his apartment in Paris, but wonders why he is being followed by a young vagrant woman. When Pierre turns to look, the woman runs away.

One night his mother tells him she has arranged a date for the marriage and he must tell Lucie. Driving through the forest, he is disturbed to see the vagrant woman, who is like a figure in his dreams. She runs away, but he catches up with her. She tells him in a strong East European accent that she is his half-sister Isabelle and recounts her unhappy life.

Abandoning home, mother and fiancée, Pierre takes Isabelle to Paris and goes to the flat of Thibault, who throws him out. Reduced to a cheap hotel, he gets to work on his novel. After various mishaps, he and Isabelle sink to living in a squat, where they become lovers. To promote his novel, he unwisely appears on television, where the studio audience boo him. Abandoning home and family, Lucie then comes looking for him and joins them in the squat, after Pierre lies to her that Isabelle is no more than a sister and lies to Isabelle that Lucie is just a cousin.

On getting a rejection note for his book, he goes berserk. Finding two pistols hidden in the squat, he heads off to kill the publisher. Seeing Thibault in the street, he shoots him dead. Isabelle and Lucie have followed him and see him arrested. In despair at losing him, Isabelle throws herself in front of a car.



The soundtrack was produced by Scott Walker and features some instrumental tracks by him, as well as contributions by Sonic Youth and Bill Callahan, who also has a cameo appearance in the film.

Alternative version[edit]

An alternate longer TV version entitled "Pierre ou les ambiguïtés", edited in three episodes with an additional 40 minutes of footage, was shown for the first time on 24 September 2001 on Arte German-French TV channel.[4] The episodes were titled A la lumière, A l'ombre des lumières and Dans le sang.

Carax edited the TV version along the lines of serials from his childhood, in particular Vidocq.[5] The new scenes in the alternative version were produced during the original shoot with extra money raised by producer Bruno Pesery to allow them to exceed their contractually agreed 140-minute running time.[6] The new sequences explore the dreams of Peter and his relationship with his mother, sister and fiancée. In an interview with Jacques Morice, Carax stated that, "it is not an 'extended version' or a 'final version' of the film Pola X, but a different proposition for television."[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "POLA X (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 10 March 2000. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Pola X (1999)- JPBox-Office". jpbox-office.com. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Pola X". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 7 October 2009.
  4. ^ "Pola X (1999)". IMDb. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Entretien avec Leos Carax, à propos de la version télé de "Pola X"". Télérama. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b http://download.pro.arte.tv/archives/fichiers/01379750.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  7. ^ What Culture#10: Pola X

External links[edit]