The Widow of St. Pierre

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Study Abroad Paris Movies Winter 2010 Directors Actors Vocabulary History French Cinema Other Resources Cinema 1 Course

True story, taking place in 1849 on the island of Saint-Pierre-de Miquelon, Newfoundland, Canada, a French overseas territory. Neel, a sailor, is condemned to death for having murdered somebody while drunk. Death by hanging has been forbidden since the French Revolution, but there are no guillotine and no executioner on the island. While officials are waiting for the arrival of a guillotine, nicknamed a 'widow' (because it creates widows), Neel is given repair jobs which endear him to the captain's wife and to the population. Big production film, superbly acted, denouncing the death penalty.
Director Patrice Leconte
Main Actors Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil, Emir Kusturica
Year 1999
Length 110 min
Links Emir Kusturica is a well-known director, actor, producer, writer and composer from Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia).

Where is Saint-Pierre & Miquelon?

The history of Saint-Pierre & Miquelon

Discussion 1. How can one justify the death penalty?
2. What are justified arguments against the death penalty?
3. Define the love relationship between the Captain and his wife.
4. Define the relationship between the Captain's wife and Neel.
5. Describe life on a remote frigid island in the 19th century.

The Flag of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is adorned by Jacques Cartier's ship. On the left side are the colors of the Basque Country, Brittany and Normandy because many immigrants came from those areas.

Website designed and maintained by Barbara Vigano, Prof. emeritus of French, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA