Jean De Florette/ Manon Des Sources
These films by Claude Berri from the work of Marcel Pagnol are each stories in themselves. Both films are absolutely beautiful, both for the fantastic scenery and the wonderful acting of all involved. The first film ends sadly. However satisfaction comes from the revenge taken by Manon in the second film, on those who wronged her family in the first.
Jean De Florette stars, Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu. It tells the story of the Soubeyrans. Cesar (played by Montand) and his nephew, Ugolin (played by Auteuil) who covert a neighbour's land, on account of a commercial growing venture, they wish to embark on. The unco-operative neighbour dies, with a little help from the Soubeyran duo. [ Both Montand and Auteuil do a brilliant job at playing this unsavoury pair ].
Their plans, based on the belief that they can now buy the land at a knockdown price, are thwarted when hunchback, Jean (played by Depardieu) arrives with his wife and young daughter, Manon, to farm the small holding which he has inherited. He has great plans. These are based on an academic study of agricultural science. His background is clearly that of a city man, not a farmer.
Initially the Soubeyrans are besides themselves with mirth at what Jean plans to do. They realise that once he has failed, they will again have the opportunity to pick up the land for a song.
However some early astonishing successes get them worried. His vegetables are high quality and they grow early in the season, attracting premium prices. His rabbits are huge and abundant. Then a long period of unusually dry weather starts to threat Jeans crops.
Finding water becomes an obsession for Jean. His neighbours seem to be helping him, but in reality they are not. Desperate to find refreshment for his crops Jean resorts to the use of explosives, which leads to an unfortunate lethal accident. The small holding is after all, acquired by the Soubeyrans, who quickly and apparently miraculously, find and unblock, a long forgotten spring.
Unknown to the Soubeyrans, Manon witnesses this miracle. Distaught, she is last seen, running, screaming into the hills.
The Soubeyrans go on to make a successful business growing carnations. The film shows lovely French countryside and someone trying to make their dreams come true, all tainted by the evils of prejudice and greed.
Manon Des Sources stars Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil and Emmanuelle Beart. Beart plays Manon, who has grown up to become a beautiful young woman, living wild in the hills in the area of her traumatic childhood.
Manon takes her revenge on the Soubeyrans. First Ugolin falls hopelessly in love with her. This of course is unrequited.
Manon finds the source of the area's water and blocks it off. This not only leads to the destruction of Ugolin's carnation growing business, but also much soul searching in the local village, eventually leading to the exposure of the Soubeyran's earlier, underhand activities.
Driven by shame, love for Manon and a realisation that Manon hates him, Ugolin takes his own life. This in turn leads to despair for Cesar.
First he realises that Ugolin, his nephew was the last in the line of Soubeyrans. So he has nobody to leave all his ill gotten wealth to. Later he discovers that the hunchback Jean De Florette for whose death he was largely responsible, was in fact his own illegitimate son.
He loses the will to live and dies leaving, his estate to his grand daughter Manon. Again the film features beautiful French countryside and a sad but largely satisfying conclusion.
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