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LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN

Director: MAX OPHÜLS

86 minutes| U.S.A.| 1948| ?Black and White| Digital


This film was re-released 12th February 2010, and is no longer screening.

Increasingly recognised as one of cinema’s greatest stylists, German-born Max Ophuls made films in France and the U.S., and died at 55 in 1957 after completing Lola Montes. This bittersweet saga, the finest of his Hollywood sojourn, represents the quintessence of his art, an aching illustration of the gulf between our dreams of romance and the cruel realities doomed to disappoint us. Cynical 19th-century concert pianist Louis Jourdan receives a surprise missive from a woman about to breathe her last. She could be any one of numerous, half-remembered lovers, yet little does he realise that sender Joan Fontaine has let her passion for him shape the whole course of her life. Ophuls’ camera endlessly circles these fate-locked individuals, the sweeping crane shots exemplifying love’s vertiginous exhilaration, while the artificial studio snow and sleigh rides crystallise an unforgettable emotional chill. Author David Thomson called it ‘a perfect film’, and that’s no understatement. Notes by Trevor Johnston

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