Lourdes (2009)

Lourdes 2009 directed by Jessica Hausner, shown on BBC 4. Sylivie Tsdud plays Christine a pilgrim to Lourdes. We do not know what is wrong with her, but she is shown being spoon fed and helped into bed by a young girl. Christine is effectively a head on a stick. She looks on as the young girls flirt with their male counterparts and, in particular, a handsome young man, Kuno, whom they all fancy. It is Christine that first speaks to him. She reminds him they met on a pilgrimage to Rome. This reinforces a joke she made when she first arrived that pilgrimages are her only chance to get out. We are able to pick Christine out because, as in Schindler’s List, she wears a distinctive red hat, as she is pushed around in a wheelchair and passes through, with military precision, the laid on rituals of Lourdes. We here her confessing that although others are worse off than her she feels life is passing her by. Her miraculous cure is foreshadowed by her dreaming of the Virgin Mary. The prim Maltese sister who organises their group’s itinerary also tells Christine she dreamed of the Virgin Mary and of her walking. When it happens there is something of a dream sequence about it. Her palsied hands are set in permanent prayer, but they twitch and move and Christine sits up and walks to the bathroom. The miracle is complete. Other pilgrims are shown to have mixed feelings of jealousy and resentment. She is a success and taken to the office where miracles can be registered. There is a queue. She is not unique. It is here that we find that she suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and there can be natural periods of remission. On an outing on the hills outside Lourdes she shares a kiss with Kuno and her world seems complete. Later she asks him to dance and he holds her tight, but half way through the number she drops to the floor. Her wheelchair is waiting. She says she doesn’t need it, but then sits. Superb.