Art & Culture History 52'

Diderot’s Religieuse: A time Bomb

18th century. Age of Enlightenment. With La Religieuse, French writer and philosopher Denis Diderot dedicates a subversive and disturbing novel. Through time, the book arouses controversies, yet it is one and a half century later that the true scandal erupts, with Jacques Rivette’s movie adaptation.


1796. In a post-revolutionary context fed by anticlerical ideas, is published this literary classic whose narrator, Suzanne, is cloistered in a convent against her will. Released 12 years after its author’s death, the story intertwines the notions of religion, alienation, female body and sexual violence. But it is only 150 years later that a true polemic explodes, as director Jacques Rivette intends to bring La Religieuse to the big screen in 1962. Undergoing censorship, it is proof of the novel’s subversive power. Today, 5 years after the #MeToo Movement, it remains more relevant than ever…


This documentary retraces the history of La Religieuse and its various adaptations, while mentioning the emergence of “nunsploitation” genre. Combining archive images, an electro-pop soundtrack and a pictorial aesthetic, it highlights Diderot’s masterpiece undeniable modernity.

Direction: Fanny Belvisi & Laurent Cibien

Production: ZED for ARTE France

Languages: French, English

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