La Symphonie Pastorale

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Adapted by Pierre Bost and Jean Aurenche from a novel by Andre Gide, Symphonie Pastorale proved yet another box-office success for popular French filmmaker Jean Delannoy. Michelle Morgan stars as a blind orphaned girl who is adopted by kindly pastor Pierre Blancher. The pastor's paternal affection for the girl blossoms into romantic love, despite the fact that he's already married. As a form of courtship, Delannoy fills the sightless Morgan's head with visions of a "perfect" world, as harmonious as her favorite musical piece, Beethoven's Symphonie Pastorale (you'll recall that composition from Disney's Fantasia). Delannoy's son Jean Desailly, likewise falling in love with Morgan, arranges for an operation that will restore the girl's sight. This plunges Delannoy into despair: once Morgan sees the world for herself, and not as an idyllic image conjured up by the pastor, she will be lost to him forever. A delicate, evenly-paced fable ending in tragedy, Symphonie Pastorale was harpooned in later years by New Wave critics who complained that Delannoy, Bost and Aurenche "trivialized" their adaptations of literary classics. The audiences, who ate up the film like cotton candy, didn't seem to be bothered in the least over the filmmakers' so-called diminishing of the Gide original. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


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