Thriller (1979)

33m 20s
16mm film, black and white, 1.33:1
mono, English

A British borderline horror film directed by Sally Potter.

Plot Summary

Mimi is seamstress heroine of on who knows that she has to die before the curtain goes down. But she refuses to accept her fate and decides to investigate the reasons for her death.


Direction: Sally Potter
© Sally Potter 1979
Thriller was made with financial assistance from The Arts Council of Great Britain
Camera: Sally Potter
Rostrum Assistance: Arthur Johns and Cinefex
Editing: Sally Potter
Bassoon Played by: Lindsay Cooper

For encouragement and criticism: Annie Brown; Lindsay Cooper; Rose English; Colette Laffont; Lynne MacRitchie; Susie Draney; Caroline Potter; B. Honey Quennell
For generous practical assistance: Lindsay Cooper and Rose English
For assistance with the script: Colette Laffont
For use of workroom: Cinema Action
La Boheme” stills of production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden by Clive Barda, Christina Burron, Stuart Robinson, Donald Southern, Group Three
Stills of needlewomen courtesy of The National Museum of Labour History

Colette Laffont (Mimi/Mimi)
Rose English (Musette/Mimi)
Tony Gacon, Vincent Meehan (the artists)


Monthly Film Bulletin vol.47 no.559 August 1980 p.166
Working largely with still photographs (from a performance of the opera and from an improvisation involving several actors dancers) and with recorded sound (the opera score itself. voice-overs, the Psycho shower music). the film-maker assembles a collage of images that suggests a plurality of possible ‘Mimi-deaths' (e.g.. murder, neglect). Each of these underscores the passive, expiatory role conventionally assigned to women in fiction (“I had to be young, single and vulnerable”), and lays an unassailable charge of ‘murder' squarely at the door of narrative, whether operatic, literary or filmic. – from a review by Martyn Auty

All text in this section © the relevant copyright holders



  • Ciné-Tracts vol.3 no.3 (Autumn 1980) pp.33-38 – review
  • Framework: A Film Journal no.14 (Spring 1981) p.47 – illustrated interview with Sally Potter (by Valentina Agostinis)
  • Journal of Popular Film & Television vol.32 no.3 (Autumn 2004) pp.110-120 – illustrated article (The gender politics of death: three formulations of La Bohème in contemporary cinema by Kathryn Conner Bennett)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.47 no.559 (August 1980) p.166 – review (by Martyn Auty)
  • Millennium Film Journal no.10/11 (Autumn/Winter 1981/1982) pp.115-122 – illustrated article (Night at the opera: investigating the heroine in Sally Potter's Thriller by E. Ann Kaplan)
  • Time Out no.505-506 (21 December 1979) p.71 – illustrated review (by Helen MacKintosh and Mandy Merck)

Other sources

  • British National Film Catalogue vol.18 (1980) p.81 – credits