Seven Days... Seven Nights

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Seven Days... Seven Nights
Moderato Cantabile AKA Seven Days... Seven Nights (Movie Poster).png
Film poster
Directed by Peter Brook
Produced by Raoul Lévy
Written by Gérard Jarlot
Marguerite Duras
Based on Moderato cantabile
by Marguerite Duras
Starring Jeanne Moreau
Cinematography Armand Thirard
Edited by Albert Jurgenson
Release date
  • 25 May 1960 (1960-05-25)
(France)
January 1964 (USA)
Running time
95 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget 30 million francss[1]
Box office 978,012 admissions (France)[2]

Seven Days... Seven Nights (French: Moderato cantabile) is a 1960 French drama film directed by Peter Brook. It was entered into the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, where Jeanne Moreau won the award for Best Actress.[3] It is based on the 1958 novel Moderato cantabile by Marguerite Duras.

Plot[edit]

Anne Desbarèdes is a young woman who is married to a wealthy businessman and is living a monotonous existence in the town of Blaye, a small commune. After being an indirect witness to a murder which happened in a café, she goes back to it the next day, where she meets Chauvin, who informs her in more detail about the crime scene events. Anna due to her unstable mental balance starts to think that he intends to kill her.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Duras' novella was published in 1958. It was read by Peter Brook, who wanted to turn it into a film. He secured the rights from Duras and wanted to give the lead role to Jeanne Moreau, whom he had directed in a Paris production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.[1]

However Brook's only other film, The Beggar's Opera, had been a box office flop and raising money was difficult. According to a newspaper report "after almost a year of financial, artistic and emotional blackmail and diplomacy, Raoul Levy undertook to produce the film for love."[1]

Levy described the film as "a romantic suspense story that only uses two principals. I guess that you could say that, through the basis of a passive love story, we learn how a crime of passion was committed."[4]

Levy said he wanted Simone Signoret to play the female lead.[4] However Brook wanted Moreau and under the contract Brook had with Levy, Brook, Moreau and Duras had complete artistic control. The director admits this was "very unusual" but the film needed "assured and delicate" handling to succeed.[1]

Brook says Levy did not understand the script but "was convinced that if Brook, Moreau and Duras saw something in it, something must be there."[1] Levy decided not to show the script to potential financiers. Instead he went to them and said, "Look here, you turned down The 400 Blows because you couldn't understand the script, you turned down Hiroshima Mon Amor; well, I can't make head nor tail of this script and what's more I'm not even going to show it to you - but I want 30 million francs."[1] The money was raised.

The male lead was given to Richard Burton, who was going to play the part in French. "This one is for art, not money," said Burton. "For a classical actor, the key thing is variation - unusual kinds of things in different media. It's all a matter of expanding one's acting range."[5]

However Burton's casting fell through shortly before filming was to begin. The actor later claimed this was because "French unions obejcted at the last minute to a British actor appearing in an all-French production, even though England's Peter Brook was the director."[6] Jean Paul Belmondo replaced him, deciding to appear in the movie instead of taking a theatre role. He would not appear on stage for over twenty five years[2]

During filming, Belmondo was in a car accident while driving in which Moreau's son was injured.[2]

Reception[edit]

The film performed well at the box office in Paris but struggled outside.[1]

Duras later said she felt that Brook had "made the film beautifully."[7] However Belmondo, who preferred making adventure movies, disliked the film. In a 1964 interview he said:

It was very boring. Like Antonioni's films, Marguerite Duras' script was full of sous-entendus (hidden meanings). Everyone was looking something significant in every expression. You didn't just drink a glass of wine. You asked yourself, 'Why does she want me to drink it?'[8]

The film was released in the US in 1964. The Los Angeles Times called it "perfection".[9]

Awards[edit]

The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. Jeanne Moreau won the award for Best Actress.

The critic from the New York Times who attended the festival called the movie "dull and empty".[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g De la Mare, Richard; Hatton, Maurice (29 November 1962). "Peter Brook film director". The Guardian. p. 6. 
  2. ^ a b c "Box office information for Moderta cantabile". Box Office Story. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Seven Days... Seven Nights". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 18 February 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Weiler, A.H. (29 November 1959). "BY WAY OF REPORT: Notes From a 'Moderato Cantabile' -- Addenda". New York Times. p. X7. 
  5. ^ "Burton Will Star in French Movie: Teamed With Mile. Moreau in 'Moderate Cantabile' -- Busy on Screen, Stage, TV". New York Times. 20 January 1960. p. 25. 
  6. ^ Archer, Eugene (10 February 1961). "FITZGERALD STORY PLANNED FOR FILM: Burton and Lumet Schedule Production of 'The Rich Boy' -- Four Movies Opening". New York Times. p. 21. 
  7. ^ Hobson, Harold (7 March 1963). "Marguerite Duras: An Interview in Paris". The Christian Science Monitor. p. 11. 
  8. ^ Barry, Joseph (21 June 1964). "THAT MAN' BELMONDO ON A MOVIE MERRY-GO-ROUND". New York Times. p. X7. 
  9. ^ Thomas, Kevin (9 June 1965). "Moderato Cantabile Poetic Study of Love's Labor Lost". Los Angeles Times. p. d12. 
  10. ^ Hawkins, Robert F (29 May 1960). "FOCUS ON AN UNIMPRESSIVE CANNES FILM FETE: Disappointing Entries, Some Bizarre Awards Mar Annual Riviera Show". New York Times. p. X5. 

External links[edit]