Release date27 March 1963 (1963-03-27) Music directorMichel Fano, Georges Delerue, Tahsin Kavalcioglu CastJacques Doniol-Valcroze (N, The Man), Françoise Brion (L, the Woman), Guido Celano (M, the Stranger), Sezer Sezin (Turkish Woman) Similar moviesRelated Alain Robbe-Grillet movies
L'Immortelle is a 1963 international co-produced drama art film directed by Alain Robbe-Grillet. It was entered into the 13th Berlin International Film Festival. The film won the Prix Louis Delluc at the Berlin Festival.
L'Immortelle is set in Istanbul. The narrative does not run strict in chronological order, but rather uses extensive flashbacks, "memory editing," and dreamlike fantasy sequences which border on the surreal to tell its story. The characters are Turkish apart from the Man, who does not understand the native language. Thus, only the French dialogue is translated in the English subtitles for the film; the Turkish dialogue remains a mystery to western audiences, and to the Man, as well.
Robbe-Grillet, who was one of the most successful screenwriters of the French New Wave, longed to direct a feature film, but no offers of backing were forthcoming. At length, a Belgian producer agreed to let Robbe-Grillet direct a film from his own screenplay on the condition that the film be shot in Turkey, using "blocked funds" (profits from an earlier film that could not be taken out of the country) owed to Cocinor, the French production company. Robbe-Grillet complied, and in his first feature film as a director, created a dreamlike, erotic fantasy.
Robbe-Grillet wrote a very detailed plan for the shooting and wanted it followed in every detail. Both Brion and Doniol-Valcroze were friends of the director; though he had written the scenario with other actors in mind he decided on them instead.
Françoise Brion as L, the Woman
Jacques Doniol-Valcroze as N, the Man
Guido Celano as M, the Stranger
Sezer Sezin as Turkish woman
Ulvi Uraz as Antique dealer
Belkis Mutlu as Servant
Catherine Robbe-Grillet as Catherine Sarayan
From the date of its release until 2014, the film was never legally available on DVD in the English speaking world, and circulated only in bootlegs, and in 35mm prints from the French Cultural Ministry, which loaned the film to museums and colleges from time to time. Thus, the film was almost impossible to see. However, in January 2014, the British Film Institute announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of the film, along with five other Robbe-Grillet features, as part of the box set "Alain Robbe-Grillet: Six Films 1964-1974," scheduled to be released in the UK on 23 June 2014. Some of the individual titles were released in the USA by Redemption in February 2014. L'Immortelle and the other films were also included in the French DVD box set "Alain Robbe-Grillet - Récits cinématographiques" released in France in 2013.
Dino de Laurentiis acquired the Italian distribution rights after production, and officially, in the film's credits, L'Immortelle is listed as French/Italian co-production, although it was shot entirely in and around Istanbul, with a mostly Turkish crew.