Letter from an Unknown Woman

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naremoret_lecture_iconJames Naremore Presents

Letter from an Unknown Woman

  • 1948
  • Directed By: Max Ophüls
  • Rated Not Rated
  • Drama
  • 96 Minutes
  1. Saturday, November 19, 2016 7:00 p.m.
Still image from the film Letter from an Unknown Woman

The film will be preceded by a short introduction by James Naremore, Chancellors’ Professor Emeritus in Communication and Culture, English, and Comparative Literature at Indiana University.


In late 19th-century Vienna, a teenaged girl develops a crush on a handsome, sexually promiscuous concert pianist. A few years later, they meet by accident and have a single romantic night. She remembers him all her life but he forgets about her. Based on a story by Stephan Zweig, this film has sometimes been mistaken for a typical Hollywood “woman’s melodrama.” It’s better understood as a beautifully directed exploration of the clash between romantic idealism (or if you like, romantic obsession) and imperfect reality— and one can debate which of those things it prefers. 35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation. (35mm Presentation)