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1. Jean de Florette & Manon Des Sources

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Two films, one set about fifteen years after the other telling a wonderful story, full of period and regional detail, that takes your emotions on a roller coaster ride.

The story is set in Provence in the South of France in the early twentieth century, and centres on a farm with a "source" (a natural spring) on it - a valuable commodity in this region. But the deeper story is a classic Greek tragedy in which Nemesis tracks Hubris with heartbreaking consequences.

Marcel Pagnol, the author of the book on which the film is based, claimed to have been told the core story as an actual event which took place in this area (where he spent his childhood).

Brilliant performances by Yves Montand and Daniel Auteuil.

Look out for some words of the local language (the Provençal dialect of Occitan, the language of the Troubadours). Examples are Papet (grandfather) and fada (insane - litterally "with the fairies"); note also the wonderful rich southern accent.

The US title of the second installment is inexplicably Manon of the Spring (singular) whereas the French translates as Manon of the Springs (plural) - this is significant because two different springs are key to the story, and at one point a character clearly explains why the locals call her "Manon of the Springs.

If you don't feel you've learned anything about human nature by the end of the second part then you must be phenomenally wise or uniquely dim.

By the way, it's worth learning French just to be able to read the books by Marcel Pagnol on which these films are based. They are even more riveting and moving than the films - if you can imagine such a thing.

Click on the flags below for details of the books, and how to buy through Amazon.

 

A note on Location.

Pagnol spent his childhood summers in the Provençal countryside near to Marseille, described in his Souvenirs d'un Enfance (Memories of a Childhood).

When he became a film maker he shot many of his films here at the foot of his beloved Garlaban, including an early version of Jean de Florette / Manon des Sources. (His wife, Jacqueline, played Manon in his version)

Claude Berri came back to the Garlaban in the 1980's to remake Jean de Florette / Manon des Sources, but found it so changed that he decided to shoot further east around Cuges-les-Pine and Riboux. The village and Manon's well were filmed in Mirabeau, in the Lubéron.

Today you can walk the Circuit Pagnol, a hike in the arid garrigues (scrublands) around Marseille and Aubagne. Drive to La Treille northeast of Aubagne and follow the signs.

 

Genre: Historical drama / modernised Greek Tragedy.
Year: 1986
Runtime:

JdeF 120 min, MdS: 113 min
Colour: Colour (Eastmancolor)
Sound Mix: Dolby
Director: Claude Berri.
Writing credits:
Claude Berri (adaptation)
Gérard Brach (adaptation)
Marcel Pagnol (novel)
Produced by
Pierre Grunstein (exec producer)
Alain Poiré (associate producer)
Original Music by
Jean-Claude Petit
Non-Original Music by
Giuseppe Verdi (from the opera "La Forza del Destino")
Cinematography by Bruno Nuytten

Cast
Yves Montand, Cesar Soubeyran 'Le Papet'
Gérard Depardieu, Jean de Florette
Daniel Auteuil, Ugolin "Galette"
Elisabeth Depardieu, Aimée Cadoret
Margarita Lozano, Baptistine
Ernestine Mazurowna, Manon Cadoret (as a child)
Armand Meffre, Philoxéne
André Dupon, Pamphile
Pierre Nougaro, Casimir
Jean Maurel, Anglade
Roger Souza, Ange
Didier Pain, Eliacin
Pierre-Jean Rippert, Pascal
Marc Betton, Martial
Clement Cal, Méderic

+ for Manon Des Sources

Emmanuelle Béart, Manon
Hippolyte Girardot, Bernard Olivier
Yvonne Gamy, Delphine
Ticky Holgado, Le Spécialiste
Jean Bouchaud, Priest
Gabriel Bacquier, Victor



Click on the appropriate national flag for details of the DVD from Amazon



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The titles (in the US) of the best French films, sorted by title


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11 Delicatessen1991
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14 Hidden2005
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18 Jules et Jim1961
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19 La Controverse de Valladolid1992
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20 La Femme Nikita1990
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21 Manon of the Spring1986
Drama, Romance, modernised Greek Tragedy
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22 Monsieur Hire1989
Crime Thriller, Romance, Drama
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23 My Life in Pink1997
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Alain Berliner
24 One Swallow Brought Spring2001
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25 Queen Margot1994
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26 Ridicule1996
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28 The 400 Blows1959
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29 The Big Blue1988
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30 The City of Lost Children1995
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31 The Closet2001
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32 The Discrete Charm of the Bougoisie1972
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33 The Dominici Affair1973
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34 The Double Life of Veronique1991
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35 The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain2001
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36 The Girl On The Bridge1999
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38 The Last Metro1980
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39 The Piano Teacher2001
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40 The Reader1988
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41 The Return of Martin Guerre1982
History (16thC) Drama, Biography, Crime, Mystery,
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42 The Visitors1993
Fantasy, Comedy
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43 Three Colors: Blue1993
Drama, Music, Mystery, Romance
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44 Three Colors: Red1994
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