lm: i'-" i
I Class Action ( 15) Gene llackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
star as a fatherand daughter. both attorneys. whose shaky relationship is jeopardised by a lawsuit in which theirlegaland personal skills are pitted against each other. See review. Opens Fri 21.
l Freedom ls Paradise ( 12) Gruelling but touching story of a Soviet teenager who escapes from a harsh children's home to travel alone across the USSR in search ofhis father. who is f imprisoned in Archangel. Opens Sat 15.
I La Gloire De Mon Pore (PG) First instalment of rose-tinted autobiography by Marcel (Jean De Florette) Pagnol. brought to the screen by Yves Robert. Part two follows in July. Opens Fri H.
lTho Hairdresser’s Husband (15) Ironic comedy from French director Patrice Leconte. based on his own (failed) desire at the age oftwelve to wed his coiffeuse. Jean Rochefort stars as the man who achieves the cherished goal in middle age. Sec preview. Opens Sun 23.
20 The List 14 — 27 June l‘)‘)l
Memories of Provence
Marcel Pagnol’s novels Jean De Florette and Manon Des Sources were filmed by Claude Berri to enormous acclaim in 1986/7. Now his childhood memoirs have also been adapted for the cinema. again in two parts. Director Yves Robert told Trevor Johnston about the cherished project he waited 30 years to make.
It was the tremendous success of
i director (‘laude Berri's twin
adaptations of the novels Jean de
; Florette and Manon (les Sources
i which introduced a new generation of UK moviegoers to the legacy of
big-hearted French writer' filmmaker Marcel Pagnol. Virtually a household name in his native country. Pagnol was one of the Parisian theatre's leading playwrights before the sound revolution prompted him to begin writing and directing for the cinema. From the 1930s his film career ran parallel to his output as a novelist and essayist. while his subject matter throughout remained firmly rooted in the landscape and people of sun-baked Provence. Youthful days spent wandering in the rolling hills or watching games ofpemnque in the town squares had instilled in the artist-to-be a deep love and reverence for the area and its peasant way of life.
For producer Alain Poire. who had provided the impetus for the two previous adaptations. Pagnol's recollections ofthese formative years in his .llemoirs ()./‘(‘lzil(llioo(l seemed a natural successor — a much-loved chronicle of a more innocent age. which would enable audiences to discover more about the man behind the earlier compelling talesofthe South. llis evocative reminiscences are again brought to the screen in two parts. La (jloi're [)e Mon Pete and Le ('luileau De .lIa Mere. The choice of
filmmaker Yves Robert was another easy decision. as the veteran director had in fact discussed a similar project with Pagnol himself as far back as the early 1960s.
‘No matter how many times I asked him. he kept saying that he wanted to do it himself.‘ recalls Robert. now in his fourth decade as one of France's best-known commercial moviemakers. "l'hen I met him again in 1973. a year before he died. Marcel knew I still wanted to make the film. but because I come from the Loire valley myself. he wasn‘t sure if I was the right man for it. I told him that I‘d spent a lot oftime in the country as a child. but also that of course I‘d been a little boy myself. I went out to work at thirteen so my childhood was my university. you know. That was enough to convince him that I could tell the story. and naturally I'm very happy to have made these films. even if it has taken many years for them to come to fruition.’
Set in the early years ofthis century. the first ofthe two films. La (iloire (1e Mon Pere. introduces the Pagnol family - the young Marcel. his schoolteacher father and seamstress mother. his high-spirited Uncle Jules and Aunt Rose — following them on an idyllic holiday as they spend the summer together in a remote cottage high in the Provence hills. The second instalment continues to chronicle the Pagnols‘ love affair with their mountain hideaway. but as the
episodic narrative unfolds. parental foibles and a particularly severe local watchman offer Pagnol junior some salutary lessons in life. Seeing both films is very much recommended. as the final note of poignancy places the preceding sunny days in a more lucid context. As Pagnol himself writes: ‘Such is the life ofmen. A few joys. soon obliterated by unforgettable
sorrows. But there's no need to tell
that to the children.‘ Unashamedly rose-tinted in their
sentimental charm. La (i/oire de
Mon Pere and Le ('lzaleuu (1e .llu Mere perhaps run (as Robert himself
: admits) ‘against the grain of
contemporary commercial cinema'. but that has not stopped them topping the French box-office list ahead of both (.‘yruno (1e Bergerac and the latest l-lollywood blockbusters. ‘I think the appeal of the films is that they're about simple feelings.’ Robert considers. ‘Feelings oflove. feelings of happiness. clearly expressed. People can come to the cinema together and watch something without having to look away in shame or embarrassment. I‘m even smiling a little myselfwhen I say this. but I suppose it's what they call “family entertainment".’
La Gloire De Mon l’ere ( My Father's Glory) ope/13a! Edinburgh '5
Chateau De Ma Mere ( My Mother's Castle) is expected to open in July.
i l F ilm/zouse on Fri 1 4 June. Le J