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Film / Under the Sun of Satan

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Under the Sun of Satan is a 1987 film from France directed by Maurice Pialat.

A priest, Father Donissan (Gérard Depardieu) is particularly fervent and devoted. Excessively so, in fact, as he seems to find the day to day work of a priest—confessions, absolution—uninspiring, while at the same time flagellating himself. His senior, Fr. Menou-Segrais, urges him to get his head out of the clouds but to no avail.

Meanwhile, in another town, a teenaged girl named Mouchette has seduced two different men and has gotten knocked up by one of them. She goes to the other, the local marquis, and asks him to take her away, but the marquis refuses because she's under age. So the next morning she takes his own gun and shoots him dead with it. And since no one even saw her there, she gets away with it, as the marquis' death is written off as suicide.

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The two plot threads come together when Father Donissan, sent off to do some work in another town, runs into Mouchette, and dedicates himself to saving her soul.


Tropes:

  • Back from the Dead: Donissan performs a miracle, bringing the young boy back from the dead. However, he isn't really sure if it was God or Satan that gave him the power. In any case it seems to take a great deal out of him, and he dies soon afterwards.
  • Creator Cameo: Maurice Pialat plays Fr. Menou-Segrais. Film editor Yann Dedet plays Gallet, the town doctor, and apparently the person who impregnated Mouchette.
  • Death of a Child: Donissan is called to the bedside of a child dying of meningitis, but by the time he gets there the boy is already dead. He doesn't stay dead though.
  • Deliberately Painful Clothing: Father Donissan wears a hair shirt as part of his mortification of the flesh. Father Menou-Segrais is not impressed.
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  • Dies Wide Open: Donissan in the confessional, eyes staring upward, face caught in a beam of light as if he's received the glory of God.
  • Driven to Suicide: Possibly because of Donissan's talk about her sin, and possibly because she just feels guilty, Mouchette kills herself.
  • Hollywood Darkness: The scene on the road where Donissan is met by the horse trader who turns out to be Satan is shot with a horribly fake-looking Hollywood Darkness that looks like it consisted in nothing more than putting a blue filter on the frame. It sort of works, though, as the whole scene looks bizarre and unreal and may have been a dream.
  • Jailbait Taboo: Mouchette is 16 years old. Cadignan, the marquis, cites this as the reason why they can't run away together. (That didn't stop him from having sex with her of course.)
  • Jump Cut: There's a jump cut from Mouchette, tossing and turning on her bed, to Mouchette out of the bed and kneeling next to it. She kills herself right after.
  • Land Poor: Cadignan receives Mouchette in a lavish mansion, where he tells her that he's got to sell off some property and satisfy his debts before he can take care of her. Later it's revealed that he was a nobleman, a marquis.
  • Psychic Link: The instant he sees Mouchette, Donissan knows everything about her, including her name and her crime. He later attributes this to a vision from God. When Mouchette kills herself, Donissan knows about that too, slamming her door open to find her on the floor covered in blood.
  • Satan: Donissan is met on the road by a horse trader who turns out to be Satan. After trying to have sex with Donissan, Satan tells him that he's already won, that the earth is his dominion and he's in everyone.
  • A Taste of the Lash: The other part of Fr. Donissan's mortification of the flesh, as he's in the habit of flogging himself.
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