Monitor (1958– )
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The Debussy Film 

An actor is playing Claude Debussy in a film about the composer's life, and finds himself identifying with his subject very closely.


Ken Russell


Melvyn Bragg (dialogue), Melvyn Bragg (scenario) | 1 more credit »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Oliver Reed ... Claude Debussy
Vladek Sheybal ... Pierre Louÿs / Film Director
Annette Robertson Annette Robertson ... Gaby Dupont
Izabella Telezynska ... Madame Bardac (as Isa Teller)
Penny Service Penny Service ... Lily
Vernon Dobtcheff ... The Actor
Stephanie Randall Stephanie Randall ... Secretary
Jane Lumb Jane Lumb ... Saint Sebastian
Yvonne Antrobus Yvonne Antrobus ... Stage Lily
Verity Edmett Verity Edmett ... Zohra, the slave girl
Janet Fairhead Janet Fairhead ... Chouchou at 13
Alison Fiske Alison Fiske ... Maeterlinck's girlfriend
Ian Flintoff Ian Flintoff ... Stage Debussy
Elna Pearl Elna Pearl ... Vasnier daughter
Yvette Rees ... Stage Madame Bardac


An actor is playing Claude Debussy in a film about the composer's life, and finds himself identifying with his subject very closely.

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Featured in Ken Russell: A Bit of a Devil (2012) See more »

User Reviews

One of the high points of Ken Russell's career
13 February 2013 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Ken Russell was an interesting if controversial director. There is a clear love and interest for the subject and the music if a biopic of a composer or whatnot but he was prone to excesses that some will deem unnecessary or distasteful. The Debussy Film is fascinating if not quite as good or subtle as Elgar. It is filmed absolutely beautifully, I could see there was a big Fellini influence in how it looked. The music is glorious also and lovingly used, Debussy's music has grown on me significantly overtime, mainly due to his songs and watching The Debussy Film actually made me appreciate it even more. The biographical elements are very interesting, with a mix of things I knew and new information, while the voice overs are intelligently written with nothing that leaps out as out of place. It is splendidly directed by Russell, you can see a lot of his style with a mixture of restraint and excess(but never questionable) but there is never too much of one over the other. Oliver Reed is fabulous as Debussy, ideally suited and he gives his all into the role. In conclusion, wonderful and recommended highly. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

18 May 1965 (UK) See more »

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Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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