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Nominated for the top prize, the Palme d'Or, at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival, The Bronte Sisters has been only rarely seen in the decades since, but its reputation as an atmospheric and passionate masterpiece has grown. An early success for the revered director Téchiné (Rendez-vous, Scene of the Crime, Wild Reeds), the film stars three of France's most enduring actresses: Adjani (The Story of Adele H, Camille Claudel), Pisier (Cousin Cousine, Love on the Run) and Huppert (Ma Mère, The Piano Teacher).
Téchiné, who co-wrote the film with Pascal Bonitzer (writer of Jacques Rivette's film of Wuthering Heights), achieves an authentic depiction of the bleak, lonely existence of the Victorian-era Brontë sisters Emily (Adjani), Charlotte (Pisier) and Anne (Huppert). The young women live in a Yorkshire village under the stern eye of their minister father (Patrick Magee, A Clockwork Orange) and a rigid aunt - and also have to deal with their troubled, opium-addicted brother Branwell (Pascal Greggory, Pauline at the Beach).
While all four siblings have artistic ambitions, their dreams are thwarted by romantic disappointments and tragic illness. But remarkably, against all odds (and using male pseudonyms), the sisters publish their first poetry and novels, including Emily's "Wuthering Heights," Charlotte's "Jane Eyre" and Anne's "Agnes Grey." Téchiné's sensitive biographical film poignantly contrasts the sisters' humdrum lives with the wildly romantic fantasies that they conjured in their extraordinary novels. With stunning cinematography by Bruno Nuytten (Jean de Florette) and powerful music by Philippe Sarde (Tess), The Bronte Sisters is a richly rewarding film; it's both a step back into history and a startling look at the immediacy of artistic creation.