Special 30th : Exquisite Corpse

The Devil probably

Le Diable probablement

1977
France
1h50
Fiction
Col.
In french without subtitles

A film chosen by Jean-Paul Civeyrac

Charles drifts through politics, religion and psychoanalysis, rejecting them all. Once he realises the depth of his disgust with the moral and physical decline of the society he lives in, he decides that suicide is the only option…

Four teenagers have formed a small environmentalist group, outraged by the industrial and the consumer society. Michel tries to fight with his modest means, while Charles refuses to engage in activism, because he is disgusted by the world surrounding him.
A hand, blood, a metro ticket. This could be the last shot of Robert Bresson’s The Devil, Probably: two young boys have taken the metro together, have walked in the streets together, have heard a few notes of a Mozart tune when passing by an open ground floor window; then, they went to a cemetery where one of the two boys killed the other one, as he had been requested to do.

In 1978, Alain Badiou wrote that The Devil, Probably was – and I am not making this up—“the far right way (...) the road to a prophetic suicide.” To say such a thing, of course, meant ignoring the dialectic at play in the work, seeing only the hero’s despair and forgetting the energy, the vitality, and the rebellion that cross through the film: indeed, to show a suicide can also be a way of expressing a wish, as Bresson himself declared when he stated that “young people in all their youth stand up against the vast demolition enterprise that is devastating the world and for which they will ultimately have to pay the bill”.

(Jean-Paul Civeyrac, translated by Naomi Vogt)
Cast
Antoine Monnier, Tina Irissari, Henri de Maublanc, Laetitia Carcano, Régis Hanrion
Screenplay
Robert Bresson
Photography
Pasqualino De Santis
Sound
Georges Prat, Jacques Maumont
Music
Philippe Sarde, Claudio Monteverdi
Art direction
Eric Simon
Editing
Germaine Lamy
Production
Sunchild Productions, GMF Productions

Jean-Paul Civeyrac est un réalisateur français. Son film de fin d'études de la Fémis, La Vie selon Luc, a été sélectionné en compétition internationale à Entrevues en 1991. Il a obtenu le Grand Prix du long métrage à deux reprises : en 1999 pour Les Solitaires —  également récompensé du Prix Gérard Frot-Coutaz —  et en 2001 pour Fantômes.

Films in the Retrospective