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The Duchess of Langeais / Don't Touch the Axe

The Duchess of Langeais / Don't Touch the Axe

A Feature film by Jacques Rivette

Produced by Pierre Grise Productions

Release in France : 28/03/2007


    Armand de Montriveau, a French general, arrives on a Spanish island during the French expedition to re-establish Ferdinand VII’s authority. For five years he’s been searching for a woman, who disappeared without a trace and with whom he was hopelessly in love, in all the convents of Europe and America. In the monastery on the island he discovers that Sister Thérèse is the woman he’s been searching for. He obtains the authorization to see her in the Mother Superior’s presence.
    Five years earlier…
    The story takes place during the Restoration, a period when the dominant values are hypocrisy, the importance of appearances, and avarice. Antoinette de Navarreins, a Parisian coquette and wife of Duke de Langeais, is a product of the epoch.
    Right from their first encounter, General Armand de Montriveau falls hopelessly in love with her and devotes himself to worshipping her, encouraged by the duchess. Flattered to be desired to such a degree, she employs all the fashionable wiles to toy with his affections, and amuses herself by seducing him, but won’t let him become her lover. What greater proof of love is there than to love without giving oneself to the other!
    Montriveau tries in vain to obtain irrefutable proof of love, but Antoinette hypocritically rebuffs him on religious grounds. During a ball, while pointing at her neck, Montriveau tells Antoinette of his most striking memory of his time in Westiminster. “Don’t touch the axe” were the words said by the guard, showing him the axe that had been used to cut of Charles the First’s head. Understanding that the duchess is playing games and will never give in, Montriveau decides to ignore his beloved and to take revenge.

    Actors (18)

    Production and distribution (5)

    Executive Producer :

    Pierre Grise Productions

    Foreign production company :


    French distribution :

    Les Films du Losange

    Co-production :

    Arte France Cinéma

    Film exports/foreign sales :

    Les Films du Losange

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    International releases (10)

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    Photos (6)

    Full credits (14)

    Executive Producers :

    Martine Marignac, Maurice Tinchant

    Author of original work :

    Honoré de Balzac

    Director of Photography :

    William Lubtchansky

    Production Manager :

    Christian Lambert

    Editor :

    Nicole Lubtchansky

    Continuity supervisor :

    Lydia Bigard

    Costume designer :

    Maïra Ramedhan-Levi

    Assistant director :

    Shirel Amitay

    Screenwriters :

    Jacques Rivette, Christine Laurent

    Sound Recordist :

    Florian Eidenbenz

    Press Attaché (film) :

    Marie-Christine Damiens

    Sound Editor :

    Dominique Vieillard

    Production Designer :

    Manu de Chauvigny

    Sound Mixer :

    Bernard Le Roux

    Technical details

    Feature film

    Genres :


    Production language :


    Coproducer countries :

    France, Italy

    Original French-language productions :


    Nationality :

    Majority French (France, Italy)

    Production year :


    French release :


    Runtime :

    2 h 17 min

    Current status :


    Visa number :


    Visa issue date :


    Approval :


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    Aspect ratio :


    Audio format :

    Dolby SR

    Posters (6)


    News (8)

    Selections (13)

    Delegations (3)

    Presskit (2)