Archive of films Fear and Trembling / Stupeur et tremblements

France / Japan
2003, 106 min

Section: Official Selection - Competition
Year: 2003

From the autobiographical book by Amélie Nothomb comes a fragile tragi-comedy set in an office building about the clash of western and eastern civilisation. The young heroine signs a year’s contract with a massive corporation and tries to understand the soul of modern Japan from the 44th floor of a company skyscraper.


From the autobiographical book by Amélie Nothomb comes a fragile tragicomedy set in an office building about the clash of western and eastern civilisation. The young heroine, who spent her childhood in Japan, returns to Tokyo to experience the enigma of a country which, for her, is symbolised by a mysterious Zen garden in Kyoto. She signs a year’s contract with the massive Yumimoto corporation where she begins work as a translator in an office on the 44th floor of a company skyscraper. Amélie immediately discovers that a woman – moreover foreigner – starting out on the lowest rung of the office hierarchy, can fall even lower. The heroine’s choleric boss Saito and his right hand – the beautiful Fubuki – manage to transform her tedious office grind into a humiliating hell, where Amélie is constantly chastised for negligence, errors, tardiness and lack of loyalty. Tears, laughter and the passing of time help her understand that, in spite of the super-modern reality of everyday life, nothing has really changed in Japan since ancient times. Humble devotion, faith in tradition and a strict hierarchy are as valid in the office environment as they were during the Samurai era. Will she be able to survive – and learn something from it?

About the director

Alain Corneau (b. 1943, Meung-sur-Loire, France) studied film editing and direction at IDHEC in Paris; he began his career as an assistant to Bertrand Blier, Roger Corman and Marcel Camus. He wrote the screenplay for the film Défense de savoir (1973). In 1973 he debuted with the feature-length parable France, société anonyme and, in the 1970s and 1980s, he became celebrated for his tough crime thrillers set in the present: Police Python 357 (1975), La menace (1976), Série noire (1979), Le choix des armes (1981) and Le mome (1986). He gained popularity with two historical films starring Gérard Depardieu – the romantic story Fort Saganne (1984) and, in particular, the intimate drama Tout le matins du monde, which won a number of awards, including Césars for Best Film and Best Direction in 1991. Other successful films include Le noveau monde (1994), Le cousin (1997)  and Le prince du Pacifique (2000). 


Artcam Films
Rašínovo nábřeží 6, 128 00, Praha 2
Czech Republic
Tel: +420 221 411 619
Fax: +420 221 411 699

Wild Bunch
65 rue de Dunkerque, 75009, PARIS
Tel: +33 143 132 130
Fax: + 33 1 431 321 30

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Official Selection - Competition
Director: Alain Corneau
Screenplay: Alain Corneau
Dir. of Photography: Yves Angelo
Music: J.S. Bach: Goldbergovské variace / J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations
Editor: Thierry Derocles
Producer: Alain Sarde
Production: Les Films Alain Sarde
Cast: Sylvie Testud, Kaori Tsuji, Taro Suwa, Bison Katayama, Yasunari Kondo, Sokyu Fujita, Gen Shimaoka
Contact: Artcam Films, Wild Bunch


Alain Corneau

Eliška Kaplicky-Fuchsová


Sylvie Testud

Alain de la Mata

Buyer, Buyer


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