Screened as part of NZIFF 2006

Under Satan's Sun 1987

Sous le soleil de Satan

Directed by Maurice Pialat

Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1987 (the first French film so honoured in 21 years), Maurice Pialat's Under Satan's Sun is a dark and demanding study of priesthood, faith and evil.

France In French with English subtitles
103 minutes



Sylvie Danton
Maurice Pialat. Based on the novel by Georges Bernanos


Willy Kurant


Yann Dedet


Henri Dutilleux


Gérard Depardieu
Sandrine Bonnaire
Maurice Pialat
Yann Dedet
Alain Artur
Brigitte Legendre


Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1987 (the first French film so honoured in 21 years), Pialat’s Under Satan’s Sun is a dark and demanding study of faith and evil. Adapted from a novel by Georges Bernanos (Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest and Mouchette were also based on works by Bernanos), the film features a powerful performance by Gérard Depardieu as Father Donissan, a simple cleric troubled by his failings as a priest, and given to sado-masochistic self-torture in an attempt to ward off the temptations of flesh and spirit. Pialat himself appears as his concerned superior, while Sandrine Bonnaire is riveting as Mouchette, the 16-year-old adulteress and murderer whose sins convince Donissan that Satan indeed rules the world.

“A film of shattering intensity… the narrative’s rigorous logic, the performances, and the stark visual beauty yield profound pleasures.” — Nigel Floyd, Time Out  

“Depardieu is astounding as the Dostoyevskian cleric… he appears to be drawing on reserves of authentic madness.” — Elliot Stein, Village Voice