Le Château de Ma Mère (My Mother's Castle) [DVD] (1990)
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An adaption of the second volume of filmmaker Marcel Pagnol's memoirs; the first of which is covered in the film 'La Gloire de Mon Pere'. A 10- year-old Pagnol and his family return to their country villa for Christmas and renew acquaintances. Back in town Marcel takes special classes to prepare for the lycee, and on an Easter visit to the country, he falls in love for the first time.
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In this second film, the family arrange to spend every weekend in their idyllic holiday home, returning to Marseilles every Monday evening as Augustine (Marcel's clever and enigmatic mother) manages to fix it through an influential contact for her husband to start his teaching work on Tuesdays instead of Mondays.
At the insistence of an appreciative former student of Marcel's Papa who now has a job as a minor official on the canal, the family are given a key to all the doors along the canal path and so shorten their four-hour walk from the end of the tram line to the country home by half. This is borderline illegal, as the path technically leads through the grounds of various chateaux and so trespasses on private property- a major sub-plot leading to new friendships, much principled and moralistic soul-searching and one bitter encounter which serves to illustrate differing attitudes of generosity and malevolence found in human nature (needless to say, the author of their misfortune eventually gets his come-uppance in a humorous and satisfying denouement).
The rites-of-passage element of the story includes Marcel's obsession with a pretentious and eccentric girl (and her even more pretentious and eccentric parents), which for a time estranges him from his younger brother and his friend-from-the-wilds Lilli - until he sees the error of his ways and returns to the more wholesome values of his own family.
These films are beautiful, rich and life-affirming, spiced with humour. The stunningly beautiful landscape, the intelligent script, the meandering plot-line, the finely observed period details recalling that long-lost age of innocence, the quirks and eccentricities of the main characters (particularly the male adult leads) make for a first-class cinematic experience which lingers long in the memory. Beware you will need a strong emotional constitution watching the final scene. Voiced-over by the now-adult Marcel, it is so heartbreakingly poignant as it reflects on the fleeting nature of human life and the passage of time that it brought tears to the eyes of some in my family - no mean achievement, I can tell you. If you don't yearn to visit the hills of Provence after seeing these films, there's little hope for you!
Pure escapism into another world and a great relief fromlurid hollywood offerings.
The French scenery is impressive too.
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While travelling the pass the garden of The Chateaux and the Lord allows them to pass...Read more