Pastoral Symphony (film)
|Directed by||Jean Delannoy|
|Written by||Jean Aurenche|
André Gide (novel)
|Distributed by||Pathé Consortium Cinéma|
The film is based on the novella La Symphonie Pastorale by André Gide and adapted to the screen by Jean Aurenche. The film score was by Georges Auric. At the 1946 Cannes Film Festival, it won the Grand Prix (equivalent of the Palme d'Or) and the Best Actress award for Michèle Morgan.
It was the film chosen to be shown at the opening gala of the Cameo cinema in Edinburgh, Scotland, in March 1949, and a rare surviving print with English subtitles was shown there again in 2009 to celebrate the film's 60th anniversary, courtesy of the BFI.
The pastor of a mountain village adopts a small blind girl, Gertrude. As Gertrude grows up into an attractive young woman, the pastor, now middle-aged, realises that he is in love with her. To his chagrin, his adopted son, Jacques, is also in love with Gertrude, even though he is shortly to be married to another woman.
Jacques's fiancée is jealous of Gertrude and arranges for her to see a doctor in the hope that she might be cured and to enable Jacques to choose equally between the two women.
Miraculously, Gertrude's sight is restored and she returns to the village a changed woman. Unable to accept Jacques' love and disappointed by the pastor's affections for her, she realises that her former happiness has been lost forever.
This film supplies a second, deeper meaning. The blind girl comes to dominate the pastor's consciousness as he guides her from being the brutish creature seen in our first glimpse of her, into an accomplished and attractive young woman. His obsession with her damages his family life. There is no indication of carnal attraction between the pastor and her; she is his spiritual creation. This alternative interpretation, then, is that the blind girl is a kind of demon (as suggested by her first appearance) who takes over his consciousness, with the result of wrecking his family life and marring his surface saintliness. This meaning is cued for us by his wife's slowly growing worry.