The Fire Within

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The Fire Within
Le Feu follet .jpeg
DVD Cover (Arte)
Directed byLouis Malle
Screenplay byLouis Malle
Based onWill O' the Wisp by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle
StarringMaurice Ronet
Jeanne Moreau
Alexandra Stewart
Music byErik Satie
CinematographyGhislain Cloquet
Edited bySuzanne Baron
Distributed byGibraltar Productions
Governor Films Inc.
Release date
  • 15 October 1963 (1963-10-15)
Running time
108 minutes

The Fire Within (French: Le feu follet [lə fø fɔlɛ], meaning "The Manic Fire" or "Will-o'-the-Wisp") is a 1963 French drama film directed by Louis Malle. It is based on the novel Will O' the Wisp by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle which itself was inspired by the life of Jacques Rigaut. The film stars Maurice Ronet, Jeanne Moreau—who had previously worked with Ronet and Malle in Elevator to the Gallows—as well as Alexandra Stewart, Bernard Noel, Lena Skerla, Hubert Deschamps and Yvonne Clech. The score features the music of Erik Satie.


Alain Leroy, a recovering alcoholic at a rehabilitation clinic in Versailles, suffers from depression. He intends to commit suicide, but first decides to visit his friends in Paris one final time, trying to find a reason to live.

The stark contrast and seemingly pointless nature of his friends' bourgeois existence only brings Leroy into a state of even further contention with his absence of meaning in life, perceived by him. Without much fanfare he returns home and kills himself, having had traveled and arced and tried, hoping to seek out an answer or meaning, but discovering that all there was to find was more complication and more intensity when it came to his state of question on whether or not life was worth living any longer.[1]



The film was selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 36th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[2] In his 2006 Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin gives the film 3.5 stars (out of four) and calls it "probably Malle's best early film."[3] Roger Ebert gives the film the same rating, describing it as a "triumph of style." [4]

U.S. director Wes Anderson's works were generally influenced by Malle, with The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) particularly drawing from The Fire Within.[5] A line from The Fire Within is also translated into English and appears as "I'm going to kill myself tomorrow" in The Royal Tenenbaums.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Roger Ebert (16 October 1969). "The Fire Within".
  2. ^ Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  3. ^ Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide, New York: Signet.
  4. ^ Ebert, Chaz. (1969-10-16) The Fire Within Movie Review & Film Summary (1964) | Roger Ebert. Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
  5. ^ Monahan, Mark (March 9, 2002). "Film-makers on film: Wes Anderson". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  6. ^ Perkins, Claire (2012). American Smart Cinema. Edinburgh University Press. p. 100. ISBN 0748654259.

External links[edit]