Le moine (1972)
aka The Monk
Article 5596 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Adonis Kyrou
Featuring Franco Nero, Nathalie Delon, Nicol Williamson
Country: France / Italy / West Germany
What it is: Faustian temptation
A charismatic monk succumbs to temptation and falls into sin, crime, sorcery and depravity.
This movie was based on a sensational eighteenth century novel. Apparently, Luis Bunuel had made two attempts to get this one made, but both fell through; this one was directed by a friend of his with a script at least partially inspired by the Bunuel treatment. I wonder what it would have been like if Bunuel had directed; it certainly would have ended up better than this rather tepid affair. The most interesting touches are in the story itself; the title character attempts to reap the benefit of the devil’s help without actually selling his soul, but the devil is tricky enough to entrap the monk in a spiral of misfortune until things get so desperate that the monk is forced to make the deal. From what I can tell, the movie takes some definite liberties with the novel; in particular, the ending is very different. I suspect the ending is very much Bunuel’s contribution to the script, as it fits in well with his anti-clerical attitude. It’s interesting, but it falls short of what it could have been.