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I think my favorite example of an unseen but significant character in a film
occurs in Eric Rohmer's "My Night at Maud's."  Maud's ex-husband is described
by Vidal (one of his ex-colleagues on the university faculty) early on and is
described by Maud at various times.  He then turns out to be the lover who
has left his former student Francoise with a lingering sense of guilt.  The
narrator's ironic dilemma is directly related to this latter affair.  He ends
up having to claim (in effect, at least) that he and Maud consummated their
affair in order to balance out the guilt factor as he tries to persuade
Francoise to overcome her reluctance to become involved with him.  After many
viewings of the film, I do have a picture in my mind of this character,
Maud's ex-husband, so I would conclude that Rohmer succeeded rather well.
 
Dan Gribbin
Ferrum College
Ferrum, Virginia
 
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