Tous les Matins du Monde

Tous les matins du monde (English translation: All the Mornings of the World) is a 1991 French film based on the book of the same name by Pascal Quignard.[2] Set during the reign of Louis XIV, the film shows the eminent musician, Marin Marais, looking back on his young life when he was briefly a pupil of Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe,[2] and features much music of the period, especially that for the viola da gamba.[3] The title of the film is explained towards the end of the film; « Tous les matins du monde sont sans retour » ("all the mornings of the world never return") spoken by Marais in chapter XXVI of Quignard's novel when he learns of the death of Madeleine.

Tous les matins du monde
Film poster
Directed byAlain Corneau
Produced byJean-Louis Livi
Written byPascal Quignard
Alain Corneau
Music byJordi Savall
Marin Marais
CinematographyYves Angelo
Edited byMarie-Josephe Yoyotte
Distributed byBAC Films
Release date
  • 18 December 1991 (1991-12-18)
Running time
115 minutes
Box office$3,089,497[1]


In the same year as the book's release, author Quignard, together with director Alain Corneau, adapted the novel for the film that starred Jean-Pierre Marielle, Gérard Depardieu, Anne Brochet and Guillaume Depardieu.

The film revolves around the late-17th/early-18th-century composer Marin Marais's life as a musician, his mentor Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe and Sainte-Colombe's daughters. The ageing Marais, played by Gérard Depardieu, narrates the story, while Depardieu's son Guillaume Depardieu plays the young Marais. The haunting sound of his instrument, the viol (viola da gamba), here played by Jordi Savall, is heard throughout the film and plays a major role in setting the mood. Though fictional, the story is based on historical characters, and what little is known about their lives is generally accurately portrayed.[4]

The film credits the scenes set in the salon of Louis XV as having been filmed in the Golden Gallery (Galerie dorée) of the Banque de France.

Described as a "crossover movie" with the music integrated into the story-line, Derek Malcolm saw Marielle's performance as "matching the music note for note".[3]


Aging court composer Marin Marais (Gérard Depardieu) recalls his former master and unequalled viol player, the Jansenist, Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe. After the death of his wife, Sainte-Colombe buries himself in his music, bringing up his two daughters on his own, teaching them to be musicians, and playing in a consort with them for local noble audiences. His reputation reaches the court of Louis XIV and the king sends an envoy, Caignet, to request him to play at court. Sainte-Colombe curtly dismisses the envoy, as well as the Abbé Mathieu. Offended, the King ensures that very few attend concerts by Sainte-Colombe and his daughters. Sainte-Colombe shuts himself away in a cabin in his garden in order to perfect the art of viol playing, and to indulge in visions of his dead wife.

Some years later, 17-year-old Marin Marais visits Sainte-Colombe, seeking to learn from the master. After a short time, Sainte-Colombe sees no musical merit in the young man and sends him away, refusing to teach him. Madeleine, the elder daughter, is saddened as she has fallen in love with Marais. She teaches him what her father has taught her and allows him to listen in secret to her father playing. During this time, Marais is hired to be a court musician.

Marais and Madeleine begin a relationship. Marais leaves Madeleine; she is pregnant and gives birth to a still-born child. Marais marries another woman, Madeleine's younger sister marries and has five children, life goes on. Later, Madeleine falls gravely ill. Sainte-Colombe calls Marais to his house where the dying Madeleine asks to hear her former lover play a piece he wrote for her: La rêveuse or The Dreaming Girl. After Marais leaves, Madeleine hangs herself with the ribbons of a pair of shoes, a rejected gift Marais had given her.

Years later, the aged Marais returns to learn from his master; Sainte-Colombe recognises finally Marais's musicianship.



As listed in the film's credits, the music heard includes the following:

  • Sainte Colombe: Les pleurs; Gavotte du tendre; Le retour
  • Marin Marais: Improvisation sur les Folies d'Espagne; L'arabesque; Le Badinage; La rêveuse
  • Jean-Baptiste Lully: Marche pour la cérémonie des Turcs
  • François Couperin: Troisième leçon de Ténèbres
  • Savall: Prélude pour Monsieur Vauquelin; Une jeune fillette, d’après une mélodie populaire; Fantaisie en mi mineur, d’après un anonyme du XVIIème

Apart from Savall, the musicians are Monserrat Figueras and Mari-Cristina Kiehr (sopranos), Christophe Coin and Jérôme Hantaï (viola da gamba), Rolf Lislevand (theorbo) and Pierre Hantaï (harpsichord and organ).

Awards and nominations


  1. Tous les Matins du Monde at Box Office Mojo
  2. British Film Institute page about Tous les Matins du Monde accessed 10 April 2014.
  3. Malcolm, Derek. Viol Bodies. Film of the week: Tous les Matins de Monde. The Guardian, 30 December 1992.
  4. Medieval Music & Arts Foundation - Tous les matins du monde : The Historical Evidence accessed 10 April 2014.
  5. "Berlinale: 1992 Programme". Retrieved 2011-05-24.
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