That Important Thing: Love

The film “That Important Thing: Love” (German title: “Nachtblende“) by Andrzej Żuławski is a highlight of French auteur cinema. The film is based on the novel La nuit americaine” by Christopher Frank, although Żuławski’s screenplay and staging depart greatly from the novel. With Romy Schneider, Fabio Testi, Klaus Kinski, the film is star-studded with greats of 70s European cinema. Romy Schneider received the César for “Best Female Lead” for her role in 1976 and was also awarded “Best Actress” at the 1975 Faro Island Filmfestíval and Taormina International Film Festival.

Storyline

Nadine Chevalier is an unsuccessful actress. At home she has a manic-depressive and impotent husband whom she loves very much. To earn some money, she gets involved in a raunchy business: she shoots soft porn. During filming she meets the photographer Servais Mont. He immediately falls in love with her, but she is only looking for a purely sexual relationship. Servais also has domestic problems: his father is a drug addict and alcoholic, and he also owes the mafia a large sum of money. Servais wants to help him and gets Mazelli, the Mafia godfather, to arrange photo shoots with young girls in order to recruit them as porn actresses. In order to finance a theatre performance of Richard III and get Nadine a role in it, Servais borrows more money from the mafia. In the meantime, Nadine makes advances to him, but he rejects them so as not to destroy her marriage.

The play Richard III is panned by the critics and fails with the audience. Servais is then forced to continue working for the mafia. Jacques, Nadine’s husband, finds out about the whole story and commits suicide. Servais now refuses to continue working for the mafia and is almost beaten to death. Nadine comes to the half-dead Servais and declares her love for him.

Production history

The film was shot very quickly in the winter of 1974/75, the plot permitted that. Director Andrzej Żuławski included scenes that an audience in the 70s only knew from explicit soft porn flicks. There had never been anything like this done in a dramatic film before. The result was that the criticism was almost predominantly negative. There was talk of a scandalous film, a mess and porno-brutality. But there was also objective criticism. The film manages to balance the topics of money, love and difficult existential situations. It also shows that apart from money, sex and love, there must be something else worth living for.

About director Andrzej Żuławski

Andrzej Żuławski was born on 22 November 1940 in Lviv in what is now Ukraine. He spent his childhood in occupied Poland in great poverty. His younger sister starved to death. After the war, his father, Mirosław Żuławski, became a Polish diplomat in Paris and at the UNESCO. The family moved to Paris. Andrzej Żuławski studied at the IDHEC film school in Paris and started his film career in Poland as an assistant director to Andrzej Wajda. After that, he made a few films for Polish television. When Polish censors banned his second feature film, “Diabeł“, Andrzej Żuławski went back to France. There, he was immediately successful with his first feature film, “That Most Important Thing:  Love“. He then went back to Poland and began a gigantic project, the film adaptation of a sci-fi novel by his great-uncle Jerzy Żuławski, “On the Silver Globe“. He was able to complete 80 per cent of this film by 1977, after which filming was stopped again by the Polish authorities. Parts of the filmed material were destroyed. He was only able to finish his film in 1989, after the democratisation of Poland.

Andrzej Żuławski was accused of showing totalitarianism and projecting this onto the Polish government. Again, Żuławski left Poland for Paris. He married the Polish actress Małgorzata Braunek in the early 1970s, and this marriage produced his son Xawery Żuławski, who also became a film director. The couple separated and Żuławski had a series of affairs and relationships, including with the actress Sophie Marceau, with whom he was involved for ten years and had a daughter, and with the painter Hanna Wolska, with whom he has a son. Żuławski was also active as a screenwriter, novelist and journalist. He died of cancer in Warsaw on 17 February 2016.

Filmography (Selection)

1971The Third Part of the Night
1972The Devil
1975That Most Important Thing: Love
1977-1989

On the Silver Globe

1984The Public Woman
1989My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days
1989Boris Godunow
2003

Dangerous Liaisons (as actor)

2015

Cosmos

About Romy Schneider

Romy Schneider was born on 23 September 1938 in Vienna under her civil name Rosemarie Magdalena Albach-Retty as the daughter of the actor couple Wolf Albach-Retty and Magda Schneider. Her paternal ancestors belonged to the famous Austrian acting dynasty Albach-Retty. This extended back to her great-great-grandfather Adolf Retty (born 1821). Romy Schneider grew up at Königssee, in the village of Schönau, and attended primary school there from 1944. In 1949 she transferred to the girls’ boarding school Schloss Goldenstein near Salzburg. There she often took part in school theatre performances, where she discovered her passion for acting. In July 1953, after graduating from school she was to attend an art school in Cologne, as her talent for painting had been discovered.

In favour of her first film role in “When the White Lilacs Bloom Again“, she renounced her school attendance. Romy Schneider got this role at the suggestion of her mother Magda Schneider, who took the leading role in the film. In addition to Romy Schneider, Götz George also made his film debut in this film. After a few more trivial films, she played a role in the remake of the 1924 Murnau classic “The Last Man” alongside Hans Albers, which also attracted attention from the critics.

Her international breakthrough came with the “Sissi” trilogy that followed. Soon everyone in the film world knew who Romy Schneider was. Her stepfather Herbert Blatzheim, Magda Schneider‘s second husband, took over her management from 1955. He urged her to make the second Sissi film, a role Romy Schneider actually no longer wanted to play.

Romy Schneider was looking for artistically demanding roles. Nevertheless, she agreed, and so “Sissi, the Young Empress” was made in 1956. In 1957 she succeeded for the first time in slipping out of the role of the lovely, well-behaved German model girl from the Heimatfilm romance. In the film “The Girl and the Legend” she played the daughter of a cotton spinner from the lower class. It was the first role Romy Schneider had chosen for herself.

Original title: L’important c’est d’aimer

Director: Andrzej Żuławski

Screenplay: Christopher Frank, Andrzej Żuławski

Actors: Romy Schneider, Fabio Testi, Jacques Dutronc, Claude Dauphin, Roger Blin, Gabrielle Doulcet, Michel Robin, Guy Mairesse, Katia Tchenko, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Klaus Kinski, Paul Bisciglia, Henri Coutet Henri Coutet, Sylvain Levignac, Andrée Tainsy, Olga Valéry, Jacques Boudet, Robert Dadiès, Georges-Fréderic Dehlen, Jack Jourdain, Claude Legros, Kira Potonie, Michel Such, Jacques Van Dooren Jacques Van Dooren, Nadia Vasil Nadia Vasil, Sin May Zao, Gérard Zimmermann

Producer: Albina du Boisrouvray, Wolfdieter von Stein, Léo L. Fuchs

Cinematography: Ricardo Aronovich

Editing: Christiane Lack

Production design: Jean-Pierre Kohut-Svelko

Cosme design: Catherine Leterrier

Makeup: Massimo De Rossi, Didier Lavergne

Production management: Georges Casati

Assistant unit managers: Daniel Deschamps, Alain Artur, Roland Godard

Art department: Pierre Roudeix, Jean-Claude Sévenet

Sound: Daniel Couteau, Jacques Gérardot, Maurice Laumain, Jean Nény

Camera & technical department: Walter Bal, Jean-Pierre Fizet, Andrzej J. Jaroszewicz, Jacques Labesse, Flore Thulliez

Music:  Georges Delerue

 

Production companies: Albina du Boisrouvray, Rizzoli Film, T.I.T. Filmproduktion

Year of production: 1975

Genre: Drama

Countries: France, Italy, West-Germany

Language: French

Synchronisations: English, German

Shooting location: Paris (France)

Lenght: 109 Min

Rating: FSK 16

Aspect ration: 1.66 : 1

Sound Mix: Mono

Resolution: 4K (new scanning 2021), Full-HD

More titles:

French: La merci! (working title)

Italian: L’importante è amare

German: Nachtblende

English: That Most Important Thing: Love

Spanish: Lo importante es amar

Portuguese: O Importante É Amar

Polish: Najważniejsze to kochać

Hungarian: A szeretet a legfontosabb

Greek: Σημασία έχει ν’ αγαπάς

Turkish: Önemli Olan Sevmek

Russian: Главное – любить

Chinese (Mandarin): 爱是最重要的事

Awards

1975 Faro Island Film Festival: Golden Moon Award for “Best Actress” -> Romy Schneider

1975 Taormina International Film Festival: Award for “Best Actress” -> Romy Schneider

1976 French Film Award César: César for “Best Actress” -> Romy Schneider

Film label: Artkeim² (Édition ParaSol Videothèque)

Distribution: UCM.ONE

Theatrical start France: 12.02.1975

Theatrical start Germany: 21.02.1975

Mediabook (Blu-Ray+DVD): 29.04.2022

In 1957, Romy Schneider devoted herself to a completely different project. Together with Herbert von Karajan she made the record production “Peter and the Wolf” after Sergei Prokofiev. Romy Schneider acted as narrator, Herbert von Karajan provided the music with the Vienna Philharmonic. Then followed again several film works, among them the romantic comedy “Scampolo“, which brought her much recognition. With great reluctance she fulfilled her contract for the third part of the Sissi trilogy, “Sissi – Fateful Years of an Empress“.

When she learned that her stepfather Herbert Blatzheim had turned down several film offers, including the remakes “The Three from the Filling Station“, ” The Congress Dances” as well as a film offer from the famous Spanish-Mexican film director Luis Buñuel, Romy Schneider became furious. Moreover, an offer from Hollywood failed because of the conditions set by Blatzheim. Romy Schneider now took her acting future into her own hands. Her next film, “Mädchen in Uniform“, with many great actresses like Lilli Palmer, Therese Giehse, Sabine Sinjen and Christine Kaufmann brought her the longed for recognition as a character actress. With the film “Christine” came the complete turnaround in her life.

After the end of the shooting she left Germany together with her film partner Alain Delon and went to Paris. There she shot three more movies in 1959, “Mademoiselle Ange“, “Die schöne Lügnerin” and “Magnificent Sinner“. In the next years Romy Schneider acted mainly in Paris. One of her theatre directors was Luchino Visconti, from whom she learned a lot. In 1962, also under Visconti‘s direction, she took on another film role in “Boccaccio 70“. Now followed several roles in blockbusters such as “The Trial“, “The Victors“, “The Cardinal“.

In the 60s and 70s Romy Schneider was at the height of her career. In 1963 she made the comedy “Good Neighbor Sam” in Hollywood alongside Jack Lemmon. Privately, however, 1963 was a bad year. Her relationship with Alain Delon fell apart. When she returned from the USA, he had already moved out of the flat they shared. She then attempted suicide. Romy Schneider then took time off. It was not until a year later that she shot the film “L’Enfer” with the old master Henry-Georges Clouzot. But bad luck stayed with her, the film was never finished. First her film partner Serge Reggiani fell seriously ill, then director Clouzot suffered a heart attack. In 1965 followed one of her most successful films, “What’s New, Pussycat?“, based on a script by Woody Allen. During a visit to Germany she met the actor and director Harry Meyen, they became a couple. During the filming of the movie “Triple Cross” in 1966, Romy Schneider und Harry Meyen married. Their son David was born in December of the same year.

In the following two years Romy Schneider devoted herself exclusively to her duties as a wife and mother. It was not until 1968 that Romy Schneider began filming again. In 1969 she acted again in the film “The Swimming Pool” at the side of her ex-lover Alain Delon. The film became one of her greatest successes. A series of films followed in the 70s, including such well-known and successful ones as “Love at the Top“, “The Infernal Trio“, “The Old Gun” and “That Most Important Thing: Love“. In 1975, Romy Schneider divorced Harry Meyen. At this time Romy Schneider was already in a relationship with Daniel Biasini, her private secretary, whom she married the same year. After the birth of her daughter Sarah, she made one of her most successful films ever in 1978 with the film “A Simple Story“. From then on, however, her life only went downhill. Her ex-husband Harry Meyen hanged himself in 1979. Romy Schneider lost many of her fans’ sympathies with the film “Death Watch“, the story of a sick, doomed woman who sold the rights to her death to a television company for broadcast. This film won some awards but failed with the audience. During the shooting of three other films there were repeated problems because of Romy Schneider‘s excessive alcohol consumption. She appeared drunk on the set several times or did not appear at all.

On 5 July 1981, her son David was killed in an accident. This event threw her completely off course. Her second marriage with Daniel Biasini was at an end and she divorced him. Romy Schneider also had to undergo a serious kidney operation. Her complete downfall was prevented by her new lover Laurent Petin. He gave her some stability again. Director Jacques Rouffio persuaded her to make another film, “The Passerby“. It was to be her last film. On the night of 29 May 1982, she died as a result of excessive tablet consumption. The death was not a suicide, but a consequence of her tablet and alcohol addiction. Romy Schneider was buried in the cemetery of the small village of Boissy-sans-Avoir, her last place of residence. Alain Delon had organised her funeral.

About Fabio Testi

The Italian singer and actor Fabio Testi was born on 2 August 1941 in Peschiera del Garda in the province of Verona (Italy). He started in film as a stuntman and played in various Italo westerns and war films in the 60s, mostly in smaller roles. Director Sergio Leone then gave him a smaller role in his masterpiece “Once Upon a Time in the West“. Vittorio De Sica cast him in the 1970 anti-fascist film “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis“. This role provided Testi’s international breakthrough. He was now often cast in international productions.

In the 1980s he worked mainly for Italian television. Fabio Testi is also known in Italy as a singer. As a duet partner of Raffaella Cara he had several hits in Italy.

About Jacques Dutronc

Jacques Dutronc was born in Paris on 28 April 1943. His first major career was as a singer, musician and songwriter. From 1966 to 2003, Jacques Dutronc released over 20 music albums and sold 1.2 million records. It was not until 1973 that he took on his first role in a feature film. He was cast in films by the great directors of French cinema such as Sautet, Rouffio, Godard, Chabrol and Żuławski and received a number of awards. His greatest role was that of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, for which he received a César in 1992.

Since 1981, Jacques Dutronc has been married to the French chanson singer Françoise Hardy, with whom he has a son, actor and musician Thomas Dutronc, born in 1973, but they have been living separately for many years – he with his new partner in Monticello on Corsica, she in Paris.

About Klaus Kinski

Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski, his civil name, was born on 18 October 1926 in the free city of Danzig. In 1930 he moved with his family to Berlin. In 1944, he was drafted into a paratrooper unit during the war and soon fell into British captivity. He was interned near the English port town of Colchester. It was in the prison camp that he played theatre for the first time. In 1946 he was released from imprisonment, went to Berlin and joined the theatre there.In 1947 he met the film producer Artur Brauner, who hired him for his first film role in “Morituri” by director Eugen York. In 1950 he assaulted a female doctor and ended up in the closed ward of a mental hospital for a few days. From 1952 he toured Germany as a “one-man traveling show”. He recited from works by German literary greats such as Schiller, Goethe, Nietzsche and Tucholsky as well as from the New Testament. His performances attracted some media attention and made his name known.

His affairs and his three marriages were as eccentric as his other life. When he returned to Germany from British captivity in 1946, he spent a short time in Heidelberg. There, by his own admission, he had a wild liaison with a 16-year-old girl for several weeks. In 1952 he married Gislinde Kühbeck. Daughter Pola was born of this marriage, which was divorced again in 1955. In 1955 he had a short affair with the actress Erika Remberg, after the end of the relationship he tried to commit suicide. In 1960 he married Brigitte Ruth Tocki, who was only 20 years old, in Berlin. Their daughter Nastassja was born of this marriage. From 1964 to 1975 Klaus Kinski lived in Rome. After divorcing Brigitte Tocki in 1969, he married the 19-year-old Vietnamese model Minhoï Loanic in Rome in 1971. This marriage produced the now very famous and busy actor Nanhoï Nikolai Kinski. This marriage was also divorced in 1979. From 1987 to 1989 he had a relationship with the Italian actress Debora Caprioglio, who was also only 19. So Klaus Kinski always liked very young women. The rumours that arose at the time that he had sexually abused his two daughters Pola and Nastassja were later confirmed by both of them. In 1981, Klaus Kinski himself is said to have said to director Werner Herzog: “For what I did to my two daughters, I would spend 20 years behind bars in the USA!”

Scandals also accompanied his life in other ways. In 1971, he had a recitation evening in the Berlin Sportpalast with his own texts and Bible quotations from the New Testament under the title “Jesus Christ Redeemer”. The lecture was not well received by the audience and more and more heckling ensued. After heated discussions, Kinski went completely berserk and insulted the audience as “fucking riffraff”, “You stupid pig” or “Stupid asshole”. The event had to be broken off. At a talk show in 1977, he did not respond to a single question from the presenter Reinhard Münchenhagen and constantly addressed him as “Mr. Münchhausen”.

But Klaus Kinski was also a good actor. He became famous above all for his 16 roles in the film adaptations of the Edgar Wallace novels, which were very popular in Germany in the 1960s. Klaus Kinski played an internationally acclaimed role in the 1965 adaptation of the novel “Doctor Zhivago“, directed by David Lean. As an actor Klaus Kinski was always very disciplined, professional and diligent. He learned all his roles thoroughly and the directors had few problems on the set – Klaus Kinski almost always mastered his roles perfectly. Especially director Werner Herzog, who had met him as a teenager in Munich, appreciated this. With him as director, Klaus Kinski‘s best films were made, such as “Aguirre, the Wrath of God“, “Nosferatu the Vampyre“, “Fitzcarraldo“, “Woyzeck” and “Cobra Verde“. Werner Herzog, who never found working with Klaus Kinski easy, was, however, able to deal with this “enfant terrible”.

In 1981 Klaus Kinski bought a plot of land in California, near Los Angeles, and built a house. After its completion in 1983, he moved in. After his last film, “Kinski Paganini“, in which he himself directed, wrote the screenplay, played the leading role and provided the film editing, he retired to his new country estate. He died of a heart attack on 23 November 1991. The autopsy showed a completely scarred heart. Klaus Kinski must have had several heart attacks which he never had treated. This fact also shows his extreme, idiosyncratic character. At his request, his body was cremated and the ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco Bay.

Cinema posters

Material processing 

Walter Potganski was able to realize the “Elaborate Digitization” together with Cristos Pateludis, an expert in film restoration who himself developed some tools for the respective processing stages. Together with Reno Bornkamm, he is the owner of the company Pateludis Video Transfer and was responsible, among other things, for the 4K scan, light determination and color correction. Usually, these steps are done in the presence of the cinematographer and the director, which of course was no longer possible in this case. The experience in the technical field of film restoration goes back over 40 years and so in this case Walter Potganski and Cristos Pateludis were now themselves responsible for what is called the “film look”.

Additional information

The film was shot mainly in Paris. The film was released in West Germany on February 21, 1975, distributed by Cinerama Filmverleih. May 29, 2022 marks the 40th anniversary of Romy Schneider‘s death. She died in Paris on May 29, 1982.

Teaser [2022] (German) ᴴᴰ

Trailer [2022] (German) ᴴᴰ

Comments about the film

“That Important Thing: Love” is a scandalous film. Brutal, naked, obsessive and intense. A cinematic delight of the more complicated kind.” (mitternachtskino.de)

“Mixture of attempted psychogram and melodrama, staged in a baroque, garish manner. In the depiction of existential extreme situations speculative in places, but not infrequently unintentionally funny.” (Encyclopedia of International Film)

“Director Zulawski thus tells a story in which two principles not only diametrically oppose each other, but are intertwined: the principle of money and the principle of love (filmstarts.com)

“That Important Thing: Love” is without question a great film by Andrzej Żuławski, distinguished by its actors, as well as by its image of an amoral society.” (film-reviews.com)

“There is crying, screaming and suffering, for some beyond the limits of good taste. Our conclusion: an exceedingly successful drama about human passions and abysses.” (filmreporter.com)

“Zulawski confronted the characters with their own wretchedness, the author with his own superficiality, the actors with their own fragility and distilled from them pure authenticity, pure expression.” (escalating-dreams.com)

“A star hour of French cinema !” (Prisma-italo-cinema.com)

“The successful mixture of psychogram and melodrama scores with an overwhelming Romy Schneider… (filmreporter.de)

“That Important Thing: Love” is a destructive love story on the brink of madness; grueling, dreary poetry between overdrawn grotesquerie, provocative, artificial expressionism with a penchant for narrative dead ends…” (moviebreak.com)

“Zulawski’s film is intelligent cinema. A manifesto against superficiality, created for liberal and unprejudiced people who are ready to dive into the shallows and dark sides of human emotions and actions.” (shadow-lights.blogspot.com)

Alternative posters and covers

On April 29, 2022, UCM.ONE and moviemax will release “That Important Thing: Love“, one of the great highlights of French auteur cinema from Polish director Andrzej Żuławski and produced by Albina du Boisrouvray, as a limited Mediabook in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Equipment and technical data of the Mediabook

Theatrical version for the first time in 4K rescanned and restored in full HD | Image format Blu-Ray: WS 1.66:1 / 1080p 24; Image format DVD: WS 1.66:1 (anamorphic) | Total running time Blu-Ray 113 min; Total running time DVD 109 min | Sound formats Blu-Ray: German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (mono), French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (mono); Sound formats DVD: German DD 2. 0 (mono); French DD 2.0 (mono) | Subtitles: German | Bonus material: 32-page booklet with original photos as well as many interesting additional information (including texts by Prof. Dr. Stiglegger and publicist & media scientist Stefan Jung), original trailer, German trailer, image gallery | Rating: FSK 16

News

🎬 “That Most Important Thing: Love” by Andrzej Żuławski with Romy Schneider available as limited Mediabook

On April 29, 2022, as part of the Édition ParaSol Videothèque, UCM.ONE will release on the Artkeim² label in cooperation with moviemax will release “That Important Thing: Love“, one of the great highlights of French auteur cinema from Polish director Andrzej Żuławski and produced by Albina du Boisrouvray, as a limited Mediabook in Germany, Austria…

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“That Most Important Thing: Love” with Romy Schneider from November 7th on MUBI

On November 7th, MUBI will show the exclusive premiere of the re-screened version of the 1975 French film drama “That Most Important Thing: Love” (original title: “L’important c’est d’aimer”) in Germany. UCM.ONE will then also release the film in a lavishly designed mediabook on the Artkeim² label as part of the Édition ParaSol Videothèque in…

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“That Most Important Thing: Love” with Romy Schneider now digitally on VoD portals

Romy Schneider was born on 23 September 1938 in Vienna and would have been 80 years old on 23 September 2018 if she had not died too early. To commemorate this milestone anniversary, UCM.ONE is releasing digitally scanned film “That Most Important Thing: Love” (1975) by director Andrzej Zulawski in a new restored version, almost…

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