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The Story of Adele H.

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VHS | N/A | Slipcase
97 mins (NTSC)
N/A | N/A | English
027616233332 | N/A
L'Histoire d'Adèle H. (1975)

Additional Information

Additional Information
What kind of woman would wait her whole life for one man? And what kind of man would deny her?

Based on the real-life diaries of Adèle Hugo, The Story of Adele H. is a psychological drama opening in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the 1860s. The daughter of famous French writer Victor Hugo, Adèle (Isabelle Adjani) has left her father's home to seek out her fiancé, the English soldier Lt. Albert Pinson (Bruce Robinson). She conceals her identity and rents a room in a boarding house from Mrs. Saunders (Sylvia Marriott). Pinson wants nothing to do with her, but she still obsessively follows him and spies on his affairs. Spending her time writing madly in journals and letters, she eventually meets the bookseller (Joseph Blatchley), who develops an interest in her. Her madness grows when Mrs. Saunders discovers her true identity, and even more so when the bookseller gives her a copy of her father's latest work, Les Miserables. When Pinson is transferred to Barbados, Adèle follows him again and sinks into insanity, living on the street. With the help of a local woman, Madame Baa (Madame Louise), Adèle returns home to her father and spends the rest of her days writing in her diary in Paris.

The Story of Adele H. (French: L'Histoire d'Adèle H.) is a 1975 French historical drama film directed by François Truffaut and starring Isabelle Adjani, Bruce Robinson, and Sylvia Marriott. Written by Truffaut, Jean Gruault, and Suzanne Schiffman, the film is about Adèle Hugo, the daughter of writer Victor Hugo, whose obsessive unrequited love for a military officer leads to her downfall. The story is based on Adèle Hugo's diaries.[1] It was filmed on location in Guernsey, Barbados, and Senegal.[2]
20 year old Isabelle Adjani received much critical acclaim for her performance as Hugo, garnering an Academy Award nomination making her the youngest Best Actress nominee ever at the time. The Story of Adele H. also won the National Board of Review Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award for Best Film, and the Cartagena Film Festival Special Critics Award

In her book, When the Lights Go Down, the American film critic Pauline Kael gave the film a very positive review.
After a two-year break to read and to write, François Truffaut has come back to moviemaking with new assurance, new elation. The Story of Adèle H. is a musical, lilting film with a tidal pull to it. It's about a woman who is destroyed by her passion for a man who is indifferent to her—a woman who realizes herself in self-destruction... This picture is so totally concentrated on one character that it's a phenomenon: we become as much absorbed in Adèle as she is in Lieutenant Pinson. And our absorption extends from the character to a larger view of the nature of neurotically willed romanticism. The subject of the movie is the self-destructive love that everyone has experienced in one form or another. Adèle is a riveting, great character because she goes all the way with it... Only nineteen when the film was shot... you can't take your eyes off Isabelle Adjani. You can perceive why Truffaut, who had worked on the Adèle Hugo material off and on for six years, has said that he wouldn't have made this "musical composition for one instrument" without Adjani... She's right for the role, in the way that the young Jennifer Jones was for Bernadette: you believe her capable of anything, because you can't see yet what she is... Adèle H. is a feat of sustained acuteness, a grand-scale comedy about unrequited love, and it's Truffaut's most passionate work.[6]
In his review in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, calling it "a strange, moody film that belongs very much with the darker side of his [Truffaut's] work."[7] Ebert continues:
Truffaut finds a certain nobility in Adele. He quotes one of the passages in her diaries twice: She writes that she will walk across the ocean to be with her lover. He sees this, not as a declaration of love, but as a statement of a single-mindedness so total that a kind of grandeur creeps into it. Adele was mad, yes, probably—but she lived her life on such a vast and romantic scale that it's just as well Pinson never married her. He would have been a disappointment.[7]
In his review in The New York Times, Vincent Canby called it a "profoundly beautiful" film that is Truffaut's "most severe, most romantic meditation upon love."[8] Canby continues:
One of the fascinations of the Truffaut career is in watching the way he circles and explores different aspects of the same subjects that dominate almost all of his films. However, The Story of Adèle H., impeccably photographed by Nestor Almendros (The Wild Child), looks and sounds like no other Truffaut film you've ever seen. ... The colors are deep, rich and often dark, and the soundtrack is full of the noises that one associates with old costume films produced by M-G-M in its great days ... More important, there is the fine background score by the late Maurice Jaubert ... The film has the manner of a romance but it's a romance from which all the conventional concerns have been eliminated. ... The Story of Adèle H. is not a psychiatric case history, though all the facts seem to be there if one wants to accept it as such. Rather it's a poet's appreciation of the terrifying depth of Adèle's feelings ... She's willful and spoiled and, the film understands, impossible to deal with. Yet the film makes us see both the madness and the grandeur of the passion. It's this ability to allow us to see a subject from several different angles simultaneously that often proves most unsettling in a Truffaut film. Toughness and compassion get all mixed up. It's also this talent that separates his films from those of all other directors who are working in the humanist tradition today. The Story of Adèle H. is a film that I suspect Jean Renoir would much admire.[8]
On the review aggregator web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 93% positive rating from top film critics based on 15 reviews, and a 75% positive audience rating based on 3,601 user ratings. [9]
The Story of Adèle H. was a modest financial success in France, where it sold 752,160 tickets

Release Date: December 22, 1975

Distrib: New World Pictures


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