Chantal Akerman

Sog., scen.: Chantal Akerman. F.: Babette Mangolte, Bénédicte Delesalle. M.: Patricia Canino. Scgf.: Philippe Graff. Int.: Delphine Seyrig (Jeanne Dielman), Jan Decorte (Sylvain Dielman), Henri Storck (il primo cliente), Jacques Doniol-Valcroze (il secondo cliente), Yves Bical (il terzo cliente). Prod.: Evelyne Paul, Alain Dahan per Paradise Films, Unité Trois, Ministère de la Culture Française (Belgio) ·DCP. D.: 202’. Col.


T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Three days in the life of a woman, a widow who lives with her teenage son, and who prostitutes herself at home in order to make ends meet. The rhythm and the rites of the everyday, always immutable, until something changes.
The woman is Delphine Seyrig, the ethereal, almost unreally beautiful, endlessly sophisticated cinephiles’ icon, unforgettable in so many films like Last Year in Marienbad, Stolen Kisses, Donkey Skin, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Perfect anti-casting as a middle-aged prostitute one would think, but in fact absolutely splendid in a role she insisted to play – “with her, says Akerman, Jeanne came out of the screen”. Behind the camera is Chantal Akerman with her unique uncompromising style (unforgettable, perfectly framed and timed long shots, a camera fixed like a bas-relief… everything is absolutely perfect), supported by one of the best cinematographers of the time, Babette Mangolte. Together they produced a carefully constructed universe of colors (those greens, those blues, those browns!) and deep shadows that succeed in being beautiful and agonizing at the same time.
“I understood the importance of the film many months after finishing it. In the beginning I thought I was just telling three days in the life of a woman, later I realized that it was a film about the occupation of time, about anguish: doing things in order not to think about the fundamental problem, that of being”. So speaks Akerman about a film that at its première in Cannes in 1975 became immediately one of the cornerstones of the cinema of the Seventies. To write that Jeanne Dielman is a seminal masterpiece is an understatement. Shown in festivals, cineclubs and Universities across the world, it had an unparalleled influence on filmmaking, as it shifted the barycenter of cinema to gestures and time, and more importantly, to the time in-between, that non-time that cinema had never shown before. In an interview from 1976, Chantal Akerman told that her mother once commented: “Chantal, in the shot with the potatoes, there is everything” – an insightful remark: the whole film and its importance lie there, as it does, in a way, a great part of Akerman’s work. Essentially, that shot re-defined what cinema is, and what it is about, once and for all.
Recently, very few prints of Jeanne Dielman were available, often in mediocre conditions, hence the need to restore the film. The restoration, carried out from the original camera negative and in close collaboration with Akerman, is also part of a broader project by the Cinémathèque Royale to restore all of Chantal Akerman’s films.

Nicola Mazzanti


Copy From

Restored by Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique in its own laboratory from the original camera negative (color 35mm). World Première