Delphine’s traveling companion cancels two weeks before her holiday, so Delphine, a Parisian secretary, is at loose ends. She doesn’t want to travel by herself, but has no boyfriend and seems unable to meet new people. A friend takes her to Cherbourg; after a few days there, the weepy and self-pitying Delphine goes back to Paris.
She tries the Alps, but returns the same day. Next, it’s the beach: once there, she chats with an outgoing Swede, a party girl, and a friendship seems to bud; then, suddenly, Delphine bolts, heading back to Paris. As she waits at the Biarritz train station, a young man catches her eye; perhaps a sunset and the sun’s green ray await.
The Green Ray (French: Le Rayon vert) is a 1986 film by Éric Rohmer. It was released as Summer in North America. The film stars Marie Rivière, Rosette, Béatrice Romand, Carita and Vincent Gauthier. It is named for the novel of the same name by Jules Verne. It was shot in France on 16mm film and much of the dialogue is improvised. The film won the Golden Lion and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1986 Venice Film Festival.
About the Story
The movie opens at the start of Delphine’s summer vacation. Delphine has just suffered the breakup of a relationship and then her travel companion ditched her so that her new boyfriend can accompany her to Greece instead. She is left without plans at a time when Paris is emptying for the summer.
Another friend invites Delphine to join a beach party for the weekend, but she finds that she’s the only one amongst the group who is single so she quickly returns to Paris. Her family pressures her to spend the holidays with them in Ireland, but she resists. She travels alone to the Alps, but is put off by hordes of vacationers and turns around.
Traveling restlessly, the theme of the movie (characterized by Roger Ebert) becomes clear: Delphine “is incapable of playing the dumb singles games that lead to one-night stands. She meets a new girlfriend, who flirts with two young men, and she flees in anger. She recoils from the pre-packaged lines of the guys she meets in bars and on trains. She simply cannot engage in that kind of mindless double-talk any longer. Beneath her boredom is genuine anger at the roles that single women are sometimes expected to play.”
While in Biarritz she eavesdrops on a conversation about Jules Verne’s novel Le Rayon Vert (The Green Ray). According to Verne, when one sees a rare green flash at sunset, one’s own thoughts and those of others are revealed as if by magic. At the Biarritz railway station she meets a young man who is travelling to Saint-Jean-de-Luz. She goes with him and together they observe le rayon vert (the Green flash).
The Green Ray – Le Rayon Vert (1986)
Directed by: Éric Rohmer
Starring: Marie Rivière, Vincent Gauthier, Amira Chemakhi, María Luisa García, Sylvie Richez, Basile Gervaise. Virginie Gervaise, Dominique Rivière
Screenplay by: Éric Rohmer
Production Management: Françoise Etchegaray
Cinematography by: Sophie Maintigneux
Film Editing by: María Luisa García
Music by: Jean-Louis Valéro
Distributed by: Orion Classics
Release Date: August 29, 1986