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The Immortal Story (1968)

Histoire immortelle (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | TV Movie 18 September 1968
In the Portuguese town of Macao, a wealthy trader named Charles Clay hires two people to recreate a story of a sailor who is paid to impregnate a man's wife.

Director:

Orson Welles

Writers:

Karen Blixen (novel) (as Isak Dinesen), Orson Welles | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Oja Kodar, Patty McCormack, Pepe Mediavilla
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jeanne Moreau ... Virginie Ducrot
Orson Welles ... Mr. Charles Clay
Roger Coggio ... Elishama Levinsky
Norman Eshley ... Paul, the sailor
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Storyline

The Portuguese colony of Macao in the 19th century. Mr. Clay is a very rich merchant and the subject of town gossip. He has spent many years in China and is now quite old. He likes his clerk Levinsky to read the company's accounts to him at night for relaxation. Tonight Mr. Clay recounts a true story he heard years before about a rich man who paid a poor sailor 5 guineas to father a child with his beautiful young wife. Levinsky says that's a popular old sailor's legend and not true. Mr. Clay has no heir for his fortune and no wife either. He resolves to make the story true... Levinsky approaches Virginie, another clerk's mistress, and strikes a bargain for 300 guineas. Now to find the sailor... Written by David Woodfield

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

18 September 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Immortal Story See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print) | (alternate)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The interior scenes of " The Immortal Story " were filmed at the home of Orson Welles outside Madrid, Spain. See more »

Goofs

Some of the Chinese signs are upside down or backwards. See more »

Quotes

Paul, the sailor: I've thought about it often. I've meant to do it many times. But, I've never done it. It wasn't all my own fault. I've been away for a long time. In a place, a long way off, where there weren't any girls. What's your name?
Virginie Ducrot: Virginie.
Paul, the sailor: Virginie. Virginie.
See more »

Alternate Versions

French-language version runs 51 minutes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in One Hundred and One Nights (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Gymnopedie No. 1
(piano pieces)
Written by Erik Satie
Performed by Aldo Ciccolini with permission of Pathé Marconi
See more »

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User Reviews

"You move at my bidding"
27 December 2010 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

Orson Welles directs based on a novel by Isak Dinesen a story about an Ebenezer Scrooge type, the miserly rich old man who doesn't believe in stories and prophecies, who hears a story about a sailor picked up by an old man in a harbor to sleep with a beautiful woman and decides to make the story happen in real life, "so that at least one sailor can tell it from beginning to end, like it happened". This is like an essay on fiction, or like a charcoal sketch, except the charcoal in Welles' hand leaves smudges and we get those smudges as handprints on the canvas because The Immortal Story seems to talk about the anxieties of a storyteller and a magician but also of an aging man and an exile. In parts of the static, dour, style, he channels Bergman, old Dreyer, Beckett, his own work, there's a beautiful piano accompaniment and Jeanne Moreau, in her Pierre Cardin attires, looks ravished and ravishing at the same time. In the end the story is reenacted for the old man's benefit and to his satisfaction, but the sailor leaving the mansion refuses to tell it to anyone because who would believe him anyway. Perhaps Welles is telling us that some things, the important ones in life, we tell as stories because no one would believe us otherwise, so that in the world of imagination they can become as real and so communicate their truth, and inversely that perhaps all stories in the world happened somewhere to someone in some form, and we only hear their echo through the centuries. Or even that we're all as characters in a story, moving at the bidding of a higher authority that pulls the strings, but it's our right and choice to tell our story or not. Food for thought.


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