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Trivia / The Song of Bernadette

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  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Bernadette never spoke the words in the trope quote: they were written by Franz Werfel for his book. In fact, Bernadette while a nun at Nevers did ask for water from the Lourdes Spring and drank it to cure a life-threatening attack of asthma. She never had another one.
  • California Doubling: While shooting on backlots in California was absolutely standard procedure for Hollywood in the 1940s, they had a really good excuse not to film in France in 1943.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Twenty-four-year-old Jennifer Jones as Bernadette, aged fourteen for nearly all of the movie - though she's outdone by fellow adult Ermadean Walters playing her younger sister Marie (whose age is not given, but would have been six or seven historically).
    • Bernadette described her lady as close to her own size (4'7")note  and age, but twenty-year-old, 5'4" Linda Darnell was cast. She's also wearing more drapery than Bernadette described, because she is pregnant. Minus the crown, this mosaic in the Rosary Basilica may be a lot closer to what Bernadette saw.
  • Star-Making Role: For Jennifer Jones, who won an Oscar for her performance.
  • What Could Have Been: The music you hear is by Alfred Newman, but Igor Stravinsky had been the first choice. He had the music for the first apparition already planned before he even saw a screening of the film, and when Perlberg and King asked him to change some of it Stravinsky refused and was released from his contract. Now, put on his "Symphony in Three Movements," second movement, and cue up your DVD to where Bernadette, Marie and Jeanne are running over the hills to collect wood near Massabielle. This is actually more evocative of a bizarre yet tenderly sacred mood than Newman's more traditionally religious approach.
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  • Mme. Léontine Bruat (Tala Birell) was real; as in the film, she was the wife (actually the widow — he died at sea of cholera in 1855, three years before the visitations) of Admiral Bruat and the governess for His Highness the Prince Imperial. There's a sequence where she brings a jug of then-illegal spring water to the Empress Eugénie for "Loulou" when he's sick, and he recovers. Eugénie subsequently informs her husband that he's either an atheist or an arrogant jerk for not opening the grotto. This whole episode was probably dreamed up by novelist Werfel. However, it is a recorded fact that the grotto was closed by local authorities and re-opened in October 1858 by order of Emperor Louis Napoleon III.
  • This insightful review points out that The Song of Bernadette actually uses horror movie themes and tropes, specifically the concept that the person who knows the truth and must convince The Authorities is the one nobody takes seriously. They specifically mention that among her adversaries is her own internalized sense of unworthiness, in the very last seconds of the film; "The bravery she has shown throughout this film is not enough: She needs rescue. Unlike the 'final girl,' she can’t triumph alone; unlike the 'final girl,' she doesn’t have to."


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