February is now upon us, and the eighth year of our Club marches on. This month we are viewing “historical” films; two of them are French classics–more like one 4-hour film made into two screenings. As per our other announcements about this duo of films, it is very important to make an attempt to see JEAN DE FLORETTE first, before viewing MANON OF THE SPRING, or the second film will not make a lot of sense. MANON is not technically a sequel, it is a continuation of the story; much like we had with the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy a few years ago.
So our first screening will be JEAN DE FLORETTE (1986), and it was directed by Claude Berri. He was known as “a French actor who became a director”. He was also a writer and producer. He directed 25 films during his career. After this pair of classics he gave us URANUS (1990), and GERMINAL (1993). At 74 years old, he had just completed TRESOR (2009) when he died.
JEAN DE FLORETTE was a Golden Globe nominee for “Best Picture”, and it won four British BAFTA awards.
The cinematographer for the film was Bruno Nuytten, who lensed 38 films from 1969-1980; movies like FRENCH POSTCARDS (1979), BRUBAKER (1980), and POSSESSION (1981). Then he went on to direct four more films.
James Berardinelli of REELVIEWS wrote, “Although released with a three month separation in France and a four month gap in the United States, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources (sometimes called Manon of the Spring), form a single, unbroken narrative. Now, with both readily available on DVD, it makes little sense to view one without the other. The natural “intermission” at the end of the first film allows the experience to be spread over two nights, but it’s hard to imagine anyone watching Jean de Florette and not moving on to Manon des Sources, and under no circumstances should the second movie be seen first. In this case, the order isn’t just important, it’s paramount.”
JEAN DE FLORETTE (1986)
Directed by Claude Beri @ 120 minutes. In French with English subtitles.
The film stars Yves Montand, Gerard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, Elisabeth Depardieu, and Ernestine Mazurowna.
Synopsis: Based on Marcel Pagnot’s epic novel, this is a tragic tale set in a rural French village in the 1920’s. It is the story of opposites, rural vs. urban, modern vs. traditional, honesty vs. greed. A powerful old man eyes his neighbor’s property, especially its splendid spring, for his own use. He dams up the spring and camouflages it, so that when the new owner arrives, there is no water, thus creating extreme hardship–and his treachery seems to know no bounds.
Roger Ebert wrote, “The director, Claude Berri, does not tell this story as a melodrama; all of the motives are laid out well in advance, and it is perfectly clear what is going to happen. The point of the film is not to create suspense, but to capture the relentlessness of human greed, the feeling that the land is so important the human spirit can be sacrificed to it.”
The musical score was done by Jean-Claude Petit, who has scored 74 films, including CYRANO DE BERGERAC (1990), URANUS (1990), and THE HORSEMAN ON THE ROOF (1995).
Rita Kempley of THE WASHINGTON POST wrote, “ Marcel Pagnol, a filmmaker himself, directed a 1952 version of MANON OF THE SPRING, which turned out to be a five-hour box office fiasco. In 1963, he reworked the material into a two volume novel, enriching his characters and inventing a new ending on which Berri based his adaption for his films.”
So join us this Friday, February 4, 2011, for the screening of Part One of the Pagnol classic novels, the award-winning Claude Berri film JEAN DE FLORETTE (1986). It will be shown at 924 Broadway, in the Pythian Temple, at street level, across the street from the Theater in the Square, in the heart of Tacoma’s theater district. Many of us show up early, about 6:00 p.m. to enjoy a meal prepared by the Phantom Director and Farishta, and join in on the fellowship and conversations. Anyone who wants to can bring along some wine or soft drinks to share with the group. We will have the TFC raffle, selling tickets for one dollar, with the winners receiving either 40% of the collected revenue, or a fine DVD from my personal collection. About 7:15 p.m. we will screen JEAN DE FLORETTE. It runs 120 minutes, so the movie is over around 9:30 p.m. Some people remain afterward to discuss their response to the film. See you at the movies!!