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As a follow-up to Jean de Florette, this film delivered everything I was hoping to see. Every loose end was tied up in Manon of the Spring to my satisfaction, and it even went further than I expected. There is more going on with the story set up in the first film than you’d suspect. Of course it is absolutely essential that you have seen Jean de Florette to appreciate any of this, in fact this second chapter would be even worse on its own than the first. However, once I get over the fact that this is the last 2 hours of a 4-hour-long story, there is so much to like here. The acting performances are powerful, and add a nuance that some of them lacked originally. At one time I would have called these characters one-dimensional or simple, but they are more interesting and conflicted than I thought. There were some slow parts to this story, and it took a little time to get to the climax, but once it gets there it is one gut-punch after the next of difficult interactions and revelations. I loved how the film explored the nature of justice, revenge, and regret in ways I’ve never seen. Manon of the Spring is a movie that will work its way up my chart as I watch it more in the future (in conjunction with Jean de Florette.)
It may be lacking the force of the first film, nevertheless it completes the story in a compelling manner, leaving even a more pensive residue than its predecessor, when you see the whole picture of what has transpired. In overall, the two films constitute a beautiful story that is as powerful as it is entertaining.
It is frustrating that Manon is such a weak and poorly-written character, which makes her "revenge" feel much less deserved, even though the film unfolds like a true Greek tragedy and is able to move us with a touching ending and the strength of Yves Montand's performance.
in my top 5 movies of all time along with "jean de florette"
Manon of the Spring is a film that holds up on its own, but you should see Jean de Florette first to fully appreciate Claude Berri's epic. Part 2 is more melodramatic than the first, but it unfolds like a Greek tragedy, full of poetic justice.
I found it a little odd that Manon has little to say in the film, despite being the title character. But then I considered the way her character was depicted in the first film. As a child, Manon was taciturn, but quietly observed and understood everything around her. The fact that Emmanuelle Beart looks like a young Elisabeth Depardieu, the wife of Gerard Depardieu, who portrayed the character's parents in the first film, also lends a sort of realness to the film.
The sequel (or really the second part) to Jean de Florette (1986) picks up the action maybe 9 or 10 years later, when Daniel Auteuil's intellectually impaired flower farmer has taken over Depardieu's land and, with the benefit of the now-unplugged spring, is doing reasonably well. Depardieu's daughter, played now by Emanuelle Beart, is a goatherd who keeps her distance from the town, although she does catch the eye of the new teacher, as well as the eye of Auteuil. Yves Montand, perhaps the only character who we can "read" (because his thoughts are deeper and he reveals them in his speech), is still standing back orchestrating his nephew Auteuil's life, encouraging him to pursue Beart to keep his family name alive. At first, I felt that this second part was merely a retread, with Beart now turning the tables on Montand and Auteuil and the villagers by stopping up their water supply. The countryside was still gorgeous and the village life of the 1920's (or thereabouts?) still rustic and authentically portrayed (as far as one can tell). But when the plot takes a sudden twist (or two), the results now seem Shakespearean or at least fabulistic, adding gravitas which had been absent until then. Seen in combination, the two parts do work although one wonders whether, with judicious editing, they might fit together as one long single film; that said, I gladly took two shorter sessions. Now, I think I might try to track down the Pagnol originals (of which these were remakes).
A great achievment
Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring are more closely related than an original and sequel; they are really parts 1 and 2 of the same film, and in fact were filmed back to back.
Set in Provence around 1920 (most people still use horses, donkeys and mules, but there are a few autos around; telephones exist but are rare, the mayor is very proud to have one), the first film tells of Jean de Florette (Gerard Depardieu,) a rather intellectual bourgeois civil servant from the city who, having inherited a farm in Provence, moves his wife Aimee ( Élisabeth Depardieu, Gerard Depardieu 's real life wife at the time) and ten year old daughter Manon there, with the intention of applying scientific principles to raise vegetables and rabbits. But in the arid climate of Provence, everything depends on water: there is a plentiful spring on the property but Jean doesn't know it because his neighbors, local worthy Cesar "Le Papet" ("Gramps") Soubeyran (Yves Montand) and his rather dim nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) have blocked it up, hoping that the lack of water will cause the farm to fail, so they can buy it cheap. This tactic has tragic consequences for Jean's family. The second film recounts how ten years later Manon, now a beautiful young woman, finds both the spring and a way of revenge for what was done to her family. In the end, everyone gets more or less their just desserts.
The films have an interesting history. French writer and director Marcel Pagnol, whose play Marius was latter turned into the French film trilogy Marius/César/Fanny, which was itself remade into the 1962 Hollywood film Fanny with Leslie Caron and other big stars, made a film in 1953, Manon des Sources, telling the second part of the story; his final cut of over four hours was so drastically cut by the distributor that Pagnol disowned it, and later redid the same story as a novel, adding a prequel novel, Jean de Florette; these two books together became the basis for these films.
Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring were a huge success both commercially and critically, and it's easy to see why. The Provencal settings are meticulously detailed and the landscape photography luscious. The acting is all around excellent: Gerard Depardieu and Yves Montand especially are as good as they've ever been.
These films are not perfect works of art: they are not free of sentimentality, some viewers may occasionally be confused about exactly who some of the minor characters are, and the surprise ending ties together all the loose ends so neatly that it may see rather artificial. But these are minor flaws. All in all, this is a production that I think everyone will like: it's one of those rare films that leave you with memories that seem to be of people and places you've experienced rather than seen on a screen.
Both films are available from MGM as a set of excellent quality on standard and Blu-Ray DVD.
The second half of the story beginning with the film "Jean de Florette" and another wonderful job. The story goes deeper, more emotional and more like real life. Wonderful.
Such a great movie, this is the follow-up to "Jean de Florette". A movie story with strong acting and gorgeous cinematography. Highly recommended!
Fabulous and deeply satisfying!