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Jean de Florette (1986, Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil)

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This $17 million, two-part adaptation of Marcel Pagnol’s novel is one of the most expensive French productions ever mounted. Himself a sometime director, Pagnol envisaged his own Jean De Florette as a literary prequel to a movie he made in 1952, called Manon Des Source , about a peasant girl accused of being a witch.

Pagnol’s film, at three hours and ten minutes (cut down from four), caused a bitter dispute with his producer, so the director decided to write this follow-up as a novel, where he would be free of interference from the money men. Set in rural France during the ’30s, the film stars Yves Montand as Cesar, a village elder with his eye on a prime piece of fertile land. When the owner dies, Cesar moves in for the kill, only to learn that the landlord has an heir.

Postal clerk Jean (Gerard Depardieu) moves from the city, with his family, to Provence to take control of his relative’s farmstead. Desperate to reclaim a valuable underground spring that runs beneath the property, the unscrupulous locals block it of and try to starve Jean off the land when the ensuing drought causes his crops to fail.

One of the most successful foreign films of the ’80s, Berri’s masterpiece even conquered America with its noble morality play. Despite its apparent longeuers , the stunning cinematography provides a beautiful travelogue through the sun-bleached Provence landscape, and it’s a testament to Berri’s filmmaking skills that the deliberately open-ended climax left audiences wanting more. Which they duly got…

production details
France| 120 minutes | 1986

Director: Claude Berri
Writers: Claude Berri, Gerard Brach
Novel: Marcel Pagnol

cast
Yves Montand as Cesar Soubeyran
Gérard Depardieu as Jean de Florette
Daniel Auteuil as Ugolin
Elisabeth Depardieu as Aimée Cadoret
Margarita Lozano as Baptistine
Ernestine Mazurowna as Manon
Armand Meffre as Philoxène
Jean Maurel as Anglade
Didier Pain as Eliacin
Pierre-Jean Rippert as Pascal

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