Jean de Florette

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Jean de Florette at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)
Genre: Drama
Director: Claude Berri
Starring: Yves Montand, Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteil, Elisabeth Depardieu
Rated: PG

Claude Berri’s Jean de Florette (1986)—adapted by Berri and longtime Roman Polanski collaborator Gérard Brach from Marcel Pagnol’s novel (itself drawn from Pagnol’s 1953 film Manon of the Spring)—is really only half a film, since it is meant to be followed by Berri’s Manon of the Spring. Worry not, however, because the Hendersonville Film Society will be showing Manon next week. Though either film is comprehensible without the other, the impact of the films is greatly enhanced by seeing both. The first film—the slower paced of the two—sets up much of the characterization and tone for the second.

The story is a simple one about a man (Gérard Depardieu) who inherits a piece of land in the country. He wants nothing more than to live there with his wife and child and start a farm. Unfortunately, an unscrupulous neighbor (Yves Montand) wants the property for the spring that’s on it and proceeds to have his nephew (Daniel Auteil) block the spring in an effort to drive the newcomer out and get his land at a low price. It’s a tale of greed and duplicity set very deliberately in some of the most beautiful countryside imaginable in order to heighten the ugliness of the human behavior. A stealthy work that creeps up on the viewer, becoming intriguing without seeming to work at it.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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One thought on “Jean de Florette

  1. tom nagle

    Both films (inc. Manon Of The Spring)taken together reveals a higher truth–What you do to your brother, you do to yourself.

    Greed, love, envy, pride, betrayal. These are all burdens Man has had to shoulder since antiquity and we have the privilege to witness this many layered story unravel in the marvelous package of the two films together.

    I don’t think i’ve ever been so shocked and saddened as i was watching the ending of Manon Of The Spring. These two films deserve much more attention than they received.

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