Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol and adapted for the big screen
Another version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
This is a unique achievement.
Well, there is The Godfather part I and II, but otherwise it is extremely rare to achieve magnificence not once, but twice.
After the brilliant Jean de Florette, Manon de Sources is not just the second, concluding part, but a chef d’oeuvre itself.
Granted, it benefits from the same stellar cast, minus the now Russian actor Gerard Depardieu whose character dies in the first part.
The poor “bossu” was killed by his recklessness, but in larger part it was the villains Le Papet and Ugolin that murdered Jean.
With the important contribution of the villagers that in most part knew about the spring and did not tell anything.
When Jean de Florette becomes the heir to a large estate he decides to move in the countryside and become a farmer.
He also wants to
- Cultivate “l’authentique”
Which the uneducated, ignorant, even if street smart Soubeyrans misunderstand and take for the name of an exotique plant.
There is water on the property and that has been stopped by Ugolin and his uncle in order to be used only by them, once they get their hands on the land, which they desperately want and they killed for, albeit accidentally.
There are powerful themes in this extraordinary masterpiece:
- Greed, which is not just a major feature of the Soubeyrans, but of many of the locals and humans in general
- Treason, violence and lying are used in order to obtain benefits and property even with the price of human life.
- And love…in various forms
Ugolin befriends the innocent Jean, only to encourage him in the most risky enterprises, knowing they will be calamitous.
But in the final part, what Buddhists would call bad karma ends up paying dues all around, from the Soubeyrans to the whole village.
A serious drought is made even more disastrous by the absence of any water from a spring that is blocked again, by different hands this time.
Ugolin falls in love with Manon, the daughter of his victim, the man that the stupid and malevolent Soubeyran has practically killed.
At the time of the making of the film, Daniel Auteuil who plays outstandingly the part was married to Emmanuelle Beart, also splendid as Manon.
As a child, at the end of Jean de Florette, Manon has witnessed how Le Papet- a wondrous Yves Montand- and Ugolin let the water escape again and the spring flow
She understood how despicable and cruel these criminals had been and how they plotted to bankrupt and murder her father.
Well, they did not want him dead but the end result made things so much easier for the crooks, who would nevertheless pay dearly.
Ugolin is obviously not encouraged by Manon, aware of the tragedy caused by this suitor who is chasing her over the hills.
People in the village start accusing the Souberayns, infuriated by the plague that has now fallen on all their houses, now without any water.
The terrible truth comes as a blow.
I cannot say what lies behind all this, but it is an earthquake.
A tragedy that pays the assassins in full.
A fabulous work, on the same spectacular level as the first part, Jean de Florette