Film / Portrait of Jennie

"There is no life, my darling, until you love and have been loved. And then there is no death."
Jennie Appleton

Portrait of Jennie is a 1948 film based on the novella by Robert Nathan, directed by William Dieterle and produced by David O. Selznick. It stars Jennifer Jones as the title character (a coincidence, not The Danza) and Joseph Cotten as Eben Adams, the artist she inspires. Also in the cast are Ethel Barrymore and Lillian Gish.

Promoted as a "fantasy," Portrait of Jennie combines drama, mystery and romance with more than a touch of the supernatural. Its extremely striking and atmospheric cinematography won Joseph H. August an Academy Award (unfortunately, he died before receiving it).

The titular portrait of Jennie was painted by Robert Brackman.

This film provides examples of:

  • Rapid Aging: Eben first encounters Jennie when she's about 13. He then encounters her at intermittent intervals. Strangely, she appears to be growing up much more rapidly than is possible with every appereance.
  • Splash of Color: Most of the film is in black and white but its final scenes shift to color.
  • Starving Artist: Eben is an impoverished painter when the film begins.
  • Wife Husbandry: Jennie is much too young for Eben at first, but she promises him that they are meant to be together and that she will grow up for him... and does. Very quickly.