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2,324 Ratings

Léon Morin, Priest

Léon Morin, prêtre

Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
France, Italy, 1961
Drama, Romance, War


The widow Barny lives in Nazi-occupied France, looking after her daughter in a small village. When the Germans arrive, she decides to baptize her and chooses priest Léon Morin to do so; after spending some time with him and converting to Catholicism, she starts feeling an unrequited desire for Léon.

Our take

The provinces prove to be a ripe setting for emotions seething under their cool surface in Jean-Pierre Melville’s provocative tale of religion—filled with sexual tension and repression. With Emmanuelle Riva, and Jean-Paul Belmondo as a handsome priest during WWII who all the women are besotted with!

Léon Morin, Priest Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville

Awards & Festivals

Venice Film Festival

1961 | Winner: Award of the City of Venice

BAFTA Awards

1963 | Nominee: Best Foreign Actor

Belmondo’s role in Léon Morin, Priest is certainly a singular one, which rests in great part on his sex appeal.
April 10, 2020
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The director’s attention to small, revealing behavior—which he typically used to generate suspense—creates a potent eroticism here . . . Yet Léon Morin is about more than unspoken desire—its ultimate concern is the unseen force of religious faith, in which the characters find solace during the Nazi occupation. Conceivably the most probing film about Catholicism ever made by a Jewish director, Léon Morin deepens the theme of tacit devotion that runs through all of Melville’s filmography.
May 31, 2017
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Riva provides the film with a startling cumulative force.
May 11, 2017
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