8th October 1975

The Story of Adele H opened in cinemas

The Story of Adele H had multiple Guernsey connections. It tells the story of Victor Hugo’s daughter, Adele, and is based on her own diaries. They were published as Le Journal d’Adele Hugo.

Adele’s diaries detail her pursuit of a man with whom she had a brief fling. Unfortunately, he’s really not interested in her. However, she eventually catches up with him in Barbados where he’s living as a married man. She has a breakdown and is put into an asylum for forty years to get over it.

Evolving feelings

Reviewing the film for the 1 October issue of The Spectator, Clancy Sigal initially had sympathy for Adele herself. This, despite her relentless pursuit of the hussar, Albert Pinson, who was trying to escape her. However, he wrote how, on second viewing, “my feelings have shifted some of the way over to the luckless lieutenant. Once I too had an obsession bordering on madness for someone who had rejected me, and now that I can look back on it coldly I understand the expression of genuine panic and even terror on the woman’s face whenever I popped up, unbidden and undesired, on her doorstep. Obsessive love is like an assassination attempt committed in romantically slow motion.”

Isabelle Adjani, who played Adele Hugo, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She was the youngest person ever to be nominated in that category.

Directed by Francois Truffaut, The Story of Adele H was filmed in Guernsey and Senegal on a budget of five million francs. Several Guernsey locals, including Deputies, played parts in the production.

In real life, Adele Hugo developed schizophrenia at an early age, as had Victor Hugo’s brother Eugene. She died in 1915, aged 94, while still living in an asylum on the outskirts of Paris.


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