Under the Sun of Satan (film)

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Under the Sun of Satan
Sur sata affiche.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Maurice Pialat
Produced by Claude Abeille
Daniel Toscan du Plantier
Screenplay by Sylvie Danton
Maurice Pialat
Based on Under the Sun of Satan by Georges Bernanos
Music by Henri Dutilleux
Cinematography Willy Kurant
Edited by Yann Dedet
Release date
  • 14 May 1987 (1987-05-14) (Cannes)
  • 2 September 1987 (1987-09-02)
Running time
93 minutes
Country France
Language French

Under the Sun of Satan (French: Sous le soleil de Satan) is a 1987 French drama film directed by Maurice Pialat, starring Gérard Depardieu, Sandrine Bonnaire and Pialat. It is based on the 1926 novel of the same name by Georges Bernanos, and tells the story of a devout priest who becomes involved with a murderess. The film is about mysticism and divine grace.

The film won the Palme d'Or at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.


Donissan (Gérard Depardieu) is a very zealous rural priest of the Catholic Church in 1920s Pas-de-Calais. The dean Menou-Segrais (Maurice Pialat) tries to keep him reasonable. Donissan is tempted by Satan, then tries to save the soul of Mouchette (Sandrine Bonnaire), a young girl who killed one of her lovers.



The film is based on the 1926 novel Under the Sun of Satan by Georges Bernanos. It was the third time a novel by Bernanos was adapted for film. The two previous adaptations, Diary of a Country Priest (1951) and Mouchette (1967), had both been directed by Robert Bresson.[1] Under the Sun of Satan was produced through Erato Films, Flach Films, Action Films and Les Films A2. Filming began on 20 October 1986 and took place in Fressin and Montreuil-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais.[2]


The film premiered on 14 May at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival, where it was met by boos and whistles from the audience.[1] It also played at the 1987 Toronto International Film Festival and New York Film Festival. It was released in French cinemas on 2 September 1987.[3] The film had 815,748 admissions in France.[4]


Critical response

Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times in 1987:

"Though it deals with theology and rises to a stunning test of faith, Under Satan's Sun has a thoroughly secular style. That's one of the many things that make it fascinating. It's a work of great subtlety, some difficulty and tremendous assurance, one that demands and deserves close attention."[5]

Nigel Floyd wrote in Time Out London:

"Pialat's ascetic meditation on faith, sainthood, and the nature of evil is a film of shattering intensity. ... Through the coldly-lit images and restrained flesh-and-blood performances, self-confessed atheist Pialat insists on the absolute reality of events, an approach which allows something intangible (spiritual?) to seep in at the edges of the frame. Despite the confusing cutting from scene to scene, the narrative's rigorous logic, the performances, and the stark visual beauty yield profound pleasures."[6]


The film won the Palme d'Or, the top prize for best film in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. It was the first time in 21 years that the Palme d'Or went to a French film; Claude Lelouch had last won it in 1966 for A Man and a Woman. Pialat was congratulated by France's president François Mitterrand, who wrote that Under the Sun of Satan "shows the vitality that can and should characterize French cinema".[7] The film was nominated for the César Award for best film, director, actor (Depardieu), actress (Bonnaire), cinematography, editing and poster.[8]

Home media

In 2013, the film was finally released as a Blu-ray disc playable in all regions.[9]


  1. ^ a b Baurez, Thomas (2012-05-19). "3 choses à savoir sur Sous le soleil de Satan". L'Express (in French). Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  2. ^ "Sous le soleil de Satan". bifi.fr (in French). Cinémathèque Française. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  3. ^ "Sous le soleil de Satan". AlloCiné (in French). Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  4. ^ Jpbox-office.com
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (1987-10-03). "Film Festival; 'Under Satan's Sun,' On Faith and Its Testing". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  6. ^ Floyd, Nigel. "Sous le Soleil de Satan". Time Out London. Retrieved 2015-09-05. The initials NF indicate contributions by Nigel Floyd; see Time Out Film Guide 2011. p. vi.
  7. ^ "Anecdotes du film Sous le soleil de Satan". AlloCiné (in French). Retrieved 2015-09-05. Elle montre la vitalité que peut et doit connaître le cinéma français
  8. ^ "Récompenses et nominations pour le film Sous le soleil de Satan". AlloCiné (in French). Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  9. ^ Atanasov, Svet (April 21, 2013). "Sous le soleil de Satan Blu-ray".

External links

  • Under the Sun of Satan on IMDb
  • Under the Sun of Satan at AllMovie
  • Cannes profile
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