Canada, 1970, 90 minutes, Colour.
Louise Marleau, Jacques Riberolles.
Directed by Denis Heroux.
The Awakening is not a particularly good film and received bad reviews. It was attacked as an opportunist film to exploit a topical church situation, to spice it with some sexploitation. This is only partially true. While the film is very episodic glances at the situation rather than a complete account of love and marriage it does ring true in many ways. The convent and presbytery situation have many elements of truth in them. The immaturity of rushing into marriage with the consequent breaking up also has its convincing aspects. A fair comparison would be Thomas Kenneally's episodes in Libido, The Priest. The Priest, although a rather static and intellectual film, is far superior to The Awakening. However, The Awakening has some merit in the presentation of the problems of its characters.
1. Why was this film made? a genuine attempt to explore a current religious and emotional theme? Or a sensationalised treatment for box office? why?
2. Were the two principals credible in their situations? Constance as an immature nun, convent life, community, her sexual frustration and realisation of her womanhood, her request to go nursing, her ability to cope with her problems, her seeking advice of Fr. Julien, the confessional discussion? Why did she really leave?
3. Julien, why did he become a priest, why was his priesthood not fulfilling, his isolation from his fellow priests, his relationship with his parish priest, his going out, dancing, the significance of the wedding (and his being framed between bride and groom), his dreams in his celibate room: how well did he respond to Sister Constance's difficulties? Why did he leave? without permissions etc.? What influence did he have on Constance's leaving? was he in any way responsible?
4. Was the church situation fairly presented? Did Constance and Julien's problems make sense in this context? Was leaving the way to solve their problems?
5. What fulfilment did Julien find in teaching? Did he understand himself better? In his work? In his relationship with his fellow teachers?
6. What fulfilment did Constance find when she left? Could her mother understand her leaving? Did her mother give any real help?
7. Why did they fall in love? How real was the love?
8. Why did they get married so quickly? Should they have? why? Why did the marriage not succeed? Was it only the sexual aspect? What faults of character did each have and how did these contribute? Who was to blame?
9. Were you surprised when they separated? Was this well done or should they have been able to overcome difficulties?
10. What happened to Julien - note his discussion with the female impersonator, his fellow teacher? Did Julien change?
11. what happened to Constance when she went to her mother? Did she change?
12. Did they realise they loved each other?
13. What did these experiences suggest about marriage and maturity?
14. Was the ending convincing, the awareness of guilt feelings about sexuality as a barrier and their overcoming these?
15. Was this a good film? Worth seeing and discussing? Why?