La Gloire de mon Père & Le Château de ma Mère, two French classics for a double set
Marcel Pagnol best loved adaptations are re-released on DVD this November
Yves Robert signed in the early 90’s two of the best loved French adaptations. On the 5th of November, the UK will finally have the opportunity to rediscover La Gloire de mon Père and Le Château de ma Mère thanks to a double home video release. More than 20 years ago the director introduced the name of Marcel Pagnol to most of the – then - new generation by taking his autobiographical novels to the Big Screen.
Early years of Pagnol’s life before he became a famous writer and film maker, the diptych takes us to the South of France where, born from Joseph (Philippe Caubère) and Augustine (Nathalie Roussel), in a middle class family, the young Marcel (Julien Ciamaca) discovers the secrets of life, friendship, love and pride of being the son of what he thought being an average public school teacher. Lead by the wealthier Uncle Jules (Didier Pain) and Aunt Rose (Thérèse Liotard) to share the rental of a yearly holiday home in the Provence mountains, the family travels for their first summer holidays to the village and remote house where Joseph explores the joy of hunting and Marcel the pleasure of nature and wildreness thanks to his new friend Lili (Joris Molinas). Stage of epic and unexpected successes and happiness the end of the summer and the return to normal life is painful.
Fortunately it is also the beginning of a new adventure, the regular weekend trips to the holiday house, setting of Le Château de ma Mère. The long weekly journey pushes the family to risk trespassing on private properties to make the most of the time away from the city. Marcel faces the conflict between friendship and love, spending less and less time with Lili when he meets the young and beautiful but mean Isabelle. On her side, Augustine develops at every trip to and from the perfect holidays a growing fear of being discovered trespassing.
Adaptation of Classics for Classic Adaptations
Pagnol was born at the end of the 19th Century, wrote his first play Merchants of Glory at the age of 29, directed his first film Jofroi at 38 but waited until he turned 62 before writing his first novels - La Gloire de mon Père and Le Château de ma Mère - under the umbrella name Souvenirs d’Enfance. The books were great successes with the first tome reaching 50,000 copies within a month of its release.
As a film maker himself, Pagnol tried unsuccessfully to secure fundings to adapt his books to the cinema. After the success of La Guerre des Boutons in 1962, Yves Robert, keen admirer, showed interest in the same exercise but was unable to acquire the adaptation rights. Fate had wanted the director to reach about the same age than the writer, when he published his autobiographies, to be able to realise his dream project.
Already regularly part of school curriculum’s the books list, in 1990 – few weeks apart -, La Gloire de mon Père and Le Château de ma Mère became movie successes both amongst the critics and the public. Nominated for four César Awards – amongst which Best supporting actress and Best Promising actor), the two adaptations quickly won the hearts of the French and international audience – together reaching more than US$ 3,000,000 at the box office in the USA -.
Timeless depiction of Provence and human relations
The stories take place in the beloved French Provence. The dry hilly landscapes, which could appear hostile to some, are also synonyms of freedom and wilderness. This nature conquered Marcel Pagnol in his time and won billions more over the years. Yves Robert’s movies depict them perfectly. The crickets’ songs, the echoes in the mountains, the threatening birds of prey, even the pines and lavender’s perfumes are surrounding us while the films play in a pinch black room. This region making most people’s hearts pounding is perfect for coming of age stories. Through Pagnol’s adventures and Robert’s adaptations, one hundred years after the events, we are still sharing the excitement, shame, pride, revolt that seized successfully - and sometimes simultaneously – the young boy. Whichever our age, men or women, we all have a part of Marcel that remains within us. And here is now the opportunity for the British public to reconnect with that part of their childhood.
La Gloire de Mon Père and Le Château de Ma Mère Box Set release on 5th November 2012.