Q&A: Promise at Dawn
On Monday 18th of March at Palace Brighton Bay, 7:00pm
Promise at Dawn
La Promesse de l'Aube
Film screening, followed by a Q&A with Dr Bertrand Bourgeois from the University of Melbourne
“A captivating screen adaptation or a failed cinematographic promise?”
This movie is a screen adaptation of the eponymous autobiographical novel by Romain Gary, the only writer who twice won the “Prix Goncourt”. The adventurous life of Gary/Ajar constantly blurs the limits between fiction and reality, which would make for great cinema, however critics of the movie are divided: some praise it as a beautiful adaptation of the novel, while others deem it as unable to capture the book’s emotional and stylistic power. In this Q&A we will examine whether the movie conveys the epic intensity of the novel’s narrative.
Dr Bertrand Bourgeois lectures in French Studies at The University of Melbourne, specialising in 19th Century French Literature and the Visual Arts.
Many people remember author and diplomat Romain Gary for his marriage to ingénue Jean Seberg (star of Godard’s 1960 classic, Breathless) – but Seberg was not his first obsession. In Gary’s own ‘fictionalised’ telling of his early life, he attributes his endearing yet eccentric mother for making him a success whilst simultaneously burdening him with her boundless maternal love.
Originally adapted by Jules Dassin in 1971, this second screen version of Promise at Dawn stars Pierre Niney (It Boy, AF FFF2014) as Gary and Charlotte Gainsbourg (Ismael’s Ghosts, AF FFF2018) as his mother, Nina. We’re thrown into a tumultuous trajectory that twists and turns across a difficult childhood in Poland, a sun-drenched adolescence in Nice and through to piloting adventures in Africa.
At every touchstone in Gary’s life, Nina leaves her ineffaceable mark. With boundless dreams and huge aspirations, she is the momentum that propels Gary forward, eventually culminating in the novel of Promise at Dawn that he feverishly writes as his life comes to a close during the Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Mexico.
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