Q&A : Memoir of war

On Tuesday 26 March at Palace Balwyn, 6:15pm

Memoir of War

La Douleur

Buy your tickets here! 

Screening, followed by Q&A with Professor Véronique Duché from The University of Melbourne

“Adapting Marguerite Duras’s inner world”

One of the 20th century's most revolutionary writers, Marguerite Duras published in 1985 her semi-autobiographical Second World war memoir, including the chapter “La Douleur” (Pain), where she narrates her agonised wait as a young French Resistance member for her husband to return from Nazi capture. In this Q&A we will discuss how Emmanuel Finkiel’s powerful film adaptation challenges both Holocaust writing and Duras’s poetic literary tone.

Véronique Duché is A.R. Chisholm Professor of French at The University of Melbourne, specialising in French Literature.

France, Belgium
/ Drama
Running time: 2h06
Director: Emmanuel Finkiel
Starring:  Mélanie Thierry, Benoît Magimel, Benjamin Biolay, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Emmanuel Bourdieu

Published in 1985 and translated into fifteen languages, Marguerite Duras’ La Douleur (pain) is considered one of the great literary works of the 20th century – a searing recollection of her experiences in Paris during the Second World War. Adapting such a work for the screen is an ambitious undertaking, and one that has garnered its fair share of controversy under the directorial gaze of Emmanuel Finkiel.


It is 1944. Marguerite Duras (Mélanie Thierry, The Dancer, AF FFF2017) remembers her past as a Resistance member in Nazi-occupied France with her husband, Robert Antelme, and the unbearable pain of waiting after the Gestapo deports him. She throws herself into a desperate struggle to secure his return.

In doing so, Duras plays a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, including a chilling relationship with a local Vichy collaborator, Rabier (Benoît Magimel, 150 Milligrams, AF FFF2017), whose motives are unclear and suspicious.

Primarily built on two chapters from Duras’ six-part book, Finkiel removes the radicalism of its source text and repurposes it in a far more conventional, accessible way. Visually, this is an epic, heartrending depiction of sorrow and the lengths one woman will endure to be reunited with the man she loves.

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