My Father's Glory (La Gloria de Mon Pere) (1990)
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as Uncle Jules
as Aunt Rose
as Paul, Age 5
as Mond des Parpailloun...
as Parish Priest
as Secondhand Dealer
as M. Vincent
as M. Besson
as Mlle. Guimard
as M. Arnaud
as Marcel (age 5)
as Paul (age 3)
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I had never been interested in visiting Paris until I read Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Paris had flesh after that. I could visualize it. The details Hemingway relates make me wish I could have been a starving artist in love as he was at the time. Maybe I could have run into Ezra Pound.
My Father's Glory, a film about the memoirs of Marcel Pagnol, did the same for me in regards to Marseille and Aubagne. The movie never tries to portray a realistic Marseille at the beginning of the 20th century. Instead, it's an idealized remembrance of Pagnol's childhood in which no one gets into a quarrel that can't be solved by mealtime, and everyone feels the joys of life and love.
The movie takes place throughout Pagnol's childhood; however, the second half of the film deals with a particularly vivid summer holiday in which Pagnol escapes into the French hills. Along the way, Pagnol takes pride in his father's successes and also meets a friend who teaches him how to trap fowl and navigate the landscape. A favorite scene of mine has the two friends hunkered in a cavern watching a lightning storm play out among the scrublands below them.
The back of the DVD jacket will tell you that the plot revolves around a hunting match, but nothing could be further from the truth. The movie has no major conflict, no problem that must be solved. There's a conclusion, and the young Pagnol does learn a valuable lesson; yet, it's an afterthought. The meat of the movie is the photography and whimsical interaction between characters. It's more a series of short sketches than a cohesive story. Delightful is the best adjective to use.
I found myself chuckling on several occasions at the comic timing. It's not funny, but it is very amusing and endearing. This is a rare movie in which you do not laugh at the characters but with them. I half expected any one of the them to turn to the camera and wink just to remind me they were in on the joke too, as if to say, "It's OK. We know you're not laughing at us. Go on. Have a good time."
The only bittersweet moments in the film come when we realize (along with our young protagonist) that the fun can't last. When he realizes he only has a day or two left of his holiday before going back to school, we are crushed that we'll be leaving the French countryside along with him.
What I couldn't understand was how this movie wasn't nominated for the foreign language Academy Award. After checking the IMDb, I figured it out. Cyrano de Bergerac, a classic of modern French cinema, was released the same year and took the spot as France's official entry. It's too bad. My Father's Glory would have had a good chance of winning too.
French cinema at its best. The value of family and memories shines through in this autobiographical piece.
It's a nice story about family but I think watching it in my French class full of students with a low maturity level ruined part of it.
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