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THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY DRINKER
1988

poster

Film

Director:

Ermanno Olmi

Language:
English

Running Time: 120'

Main Cast:
Rutger Hauer - Andreas Kartak
Jean-Maurice Chanet - Kaniak
Sandrine Dumas - Gabby
Dominique Pinion - Woitech
Anthony Quayle - Gentleman
Sophie Segalen - Karoline

Screenplay:
Tullio Kezich and Ermanno Olmi, from the short story by Joseph Roth “Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker”

Awards and Nominations:
1988 - Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Award for Best Director
1988 - Venice Film Festival OCIC Award as Best Director
1988 - Seattle International Film Festival Award as Best Actor
1989 - David of Donatello Award as Best Film
1990 - Sant Jordi Awards Nomination as Best Foreign Actor

Plot:
One day the clochard Andreas meets, under the bridges of the Seine, a stranger who offers him 200 Francs. At first he doesn’t want to accept it : his sense of honour prevents him to do that, since he knows that he will never be able to repay it. The stranger suggests he gives it back, when he is in a position to, to “Little Therese”, the statue of Sainte Therese de Lisieux in the Sainte Marie de Batignolle church.

From that moment on, the life of Andreas Kartak appears as a long sequel of finding and losing himself on the way to that church, trying to keep his word.

It seems like he now wants only one thing in his life – give that money back – and at the same time he is willingly diverted from this goal by countless Pernods, by women met by chance, by old friends who reappear as ghosts. He knows however that he is on his way to redemption. Eventually, he understands that he is still a living part of this world, and he is therefore ready to accept his fate, his death, in a peaceful way.

Notes:
On the set, Ermanno Olmi used real clochards.

Rutger got a lot of fantastic reviews for his performance:
“A fine performance from Hauer..illuminates this extraordinary film”, Derek Malcom, Cosmopolitan.
“Convincing, moving and beautiful”, Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Sight & Sound.
“”Rutger Hauer gives probably the greatest performance of his career…a magical film”, Elissa Van Poznak, Elle.

Joseph Roth was born in the German colony of Schwabendorf in Volynia, Slovenia (formerly Galicia, Austro-Hungarian Empire) in 1894. His father left the family before he was born and died – according to Roth – in a lunatic asylum in Amsterdam; actually he died in Russia. Joseph Roth became a very prolific political journalist and novelist, whose major work, the family history “Radetzkymarch” was published in 1932 and portrayed the last period of the Habsurg monarchy, its multiethnic society and its hedonic sensuality, from 1859 to 1916. He declared “I am a conservative and a Catholic, I consider Austria my fatherland and long for the return of the Empire”. He started his career as a writer in 1920 under the influence of French and Russian psychological realism (Balzac, Stendhal, Flaubert, Gogol, Tolstoj and Dostoyevsky) but later his works got closer to the Viennese Impressionism (Hofmannstahl, Schnitzler). “The Legend of the Holy Drinker” (“Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker”, 1939) is autobiographical, a sort of self-ironic examination - he died alcoholic in 1939 in Paris: this book is considered his spiritual testament.

Joseph Roth

Set Shots:


 

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