(1978, Fr, 102 min) Dir Alain Andere. Cast Raymond Polac, Jean Rochefort, Catherine du Mai.
Anton Phillipe St. Jude Dominique La Tasse wakes in an exquisite room in a gold-leafed Baroque style that is unfamiliar to him. From the window he can see that the house it is part of is sited in a vast estate in the countryside. Curious, he rings the room’s bell and soon enough a valet appears. “What am I doing here?” he asks, scaring the valet off to summon the master of the house, one M. Vilper. “What do you last remember?” this man asks, puffing sanguinely on his pipe and studying the clouds that drift from it. Anton thinks. “It was night. A masked tribunal by candlelight. I was to be sentenced.” M. Vilper nods. “But this is no prison,” protests Anton. M. Vilper laughs and excuses himself. Anton investigates, meets his few fellow inmates and walks to what he thinks might be the extent of the grounds… but goes no further. The resulting ‘action’ are a series of philosophical debates between Anton, M. Vilper and the rest of the inmates about the nature of imprisonment, about freedom, about liberty. At the end of the film Anton’s time has been served and he returns to Paris and his life as it once was. Despite this, as his goes about his day-to-day life, he is never sure whether this is not simply a larger prison and whether he can still feel the weight about him of the invisible chains of freedom.