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Eden Cinema


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A: Marguerite Duras Pf: 1977, Paris Pb: 1977 Tr: 1988 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Bungalow and surrounding country, Upper Cambodia, Central Hotel, Saigon, 1931 C: 3m, 2fThe Mother bought a concession in French Indochina with money saved from working at the Eden Cinema, but because she didn't pay any bribes, the land was useless. It was regularly flooded by the sea, even when sea walls were built, and she and her two children, Suzanne and Joseph, and their loyal servant ‘the Corporal’ were reduced to poverty. They go to the local port of Réam, where they meet the millionaire Mr Jo, who is attracted to Suzanne. Suzanne insists on marriage before she will accede to Mr Jo's pleadings for sex. However, Mr Jo knows that his father wants him to marry a rich heiress, and so promises Suzanne a diamond ring worth 20,000 piastres if she will spend three days with him in Saigon. The Mother is already planning to use the money to rebuild the sea walls. Suzanne, more in love with her brother Joseph than with Mr Jo, refuses the ring and tells him to leave, but he gives her the diamond anyway. Mother and children travel to Saigon to sell the diamond. When she is offered no more than 11,000 piastres for the diamond, the Mother becomes obsessed, and offers Suzanne for sale. Joseph goes off and meets a rich married white woman and sells the diamond to her. The family returns home. The woman comes for Joseph, Suzanne gives herself to a local peasant, and the Mother dies. Suzanne and Joseph leave the plain for good: ‘All of us were always strangers in your country.’

A: Marguerite Duras Pf: 1977, Paris Pb: 1977 Tr: 1988 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Bungalow and surrounding country, Upper Cambodia, Central Hotel, Saigon, 1931 C: 3m, 2f

Based on her own youth in Indochina, Duras here recounts an absorbing tale of a family struggling to survive in an alien environment. The unreal images projected in the Eden Cinema and the sea walls built in a vain attempt to shut out the Pacific are potent metaphors of colonialism. Duras's tale is told mainly by narration, undramatic but haunting.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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