The Fire Within
|The Fire Within|
DVD Cover (Arte)
|Directed by||Louis Malle|
|Screenplay by||Louis Malle|
|Based on||Will O' the Wisp by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle|
|Starring||Maurice Ronet |
|Music by||Erik Satie|
|Edited by||Suzanne Baron|
|Distributed by||Gibraltar Productions|
Governor Films Inc.
The Fire Within (French: Le feu follet [lə fø fɔlɛ], meaning "The Manic Fire" or "Will-o'-the-Wisp") is a 1963 French drama film directed by Louis Malle. It is based on the novel Will O' the Wisp by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle which itself was inspired by the life of Jacques Rigaut. The film stars Maurice Ronet, Jeanne Moreau—who had previously worked with Ronet and Malle in Elevator to the Gallows—as well as Alexandra Stewart, Bernard Noel, Lena Skerla, Hubert Deschamps and Yvonne Clech. The score features the music of Erik Satie.
Alain Leroy, a recovering alcoholic at a rehabilitation clinic in Versailles, suffers from depression. He intends to commit suicide, but first decides to visit his friends in Paris one final time, trying to find a reason to live.
The stark contrast and seemingly pointless nature of his friends' bourgeois existence only brings Leroy into a state of even further contention with his absence of meaning in life, perceived by him. Without much fanfare he returns home and kills himself, having had traveled and arced and tried, hoping to seek out an answer or meaning, but discovering that all there was to find was more complication and more intensity when it came to his state of question on whether or not life was worth living any longer.
- Maurice Ronet as Alain Leroy
- Léna Skerla as Lydia
- Yvonne Clech as Mademoiselle Farnoux
- Hubert Deschamps as D'Averseau
- Jean-Paul Moulinot as Dr. La Barbinais
- Mona Dol as Madame La Barbinais
- Pierre Moncorbier as Moraine
- René Dupuy as Charlie (as René Dupuis)
- Bernard Tiphaine as Milou
- Bernard Noël as Dubourg
- Ursula Kubler as Fanny
- Jeanne Moreau as Eva
- Alexandra Stewart as Solange
The film was selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 36th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee. In his 2006 Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin gives the film 3.5 stars (out of four) and calls it "probably Malle's best early film." Roger Ebert gives the film the same rating, describing it as a "triumph of style." 
U.S. director Wes Anderson's works were generally influenced by Malle, with The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) particularly drawing from The Fire Within. A line from The Fire Within is also translated into English and appears as "I'm going to kill myself tomorrow" in The Royal Tenenbaums.
- List of submissions to the 36th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of French submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- Roger Ebert (16 October 1969). "The Fire Within". rogerebert.com.
- Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
- Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide, New York: Signet.
- Ebert, Chaz. (1969-10-16) The Fire Within Movie Review & Film Summary (1964) | Roger Ebert. Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
- Monahan, Mark (March 9, 2002). "Film-makers on film: Wes Anderson". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
- Perkins, Claire (2012). American Smart Cinema. Edinburgh University Press. p. 100. ISBN 0748654259.