Direction: Claude Berri; Cast: Yves Montand; Gérard Depardieu & Daniel Auteuil; Music: Jean-Claude Petit Giuseppe Verdi & Cinematography by Bruno Nuytten; Release dates: 27 August 1986 (France) & Running time of 120 minutes
This is a 1986 French historical drama film directed by Claude Berri, based on a novel by Marcel Pagnol. It is followed by Manon des Sources. The film takes place in rural Provence, where two local farmers scheme to trick a newcomer out of his newly inherited property. The film starred three of France’s most prominent actors – Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, who won a BAFTA award for his performance, and Yves Montand in one of the last roles before his death.
The film was shot, together with Manon des Sources, over a period of seven months. At the time the most expensive French film ever made, it was a great commercial and critical success, both domestically and internationally, and was nominated for eight César awards, and ten BAFTAs. In the long term the films did much to promote the region of Provence as a tourist destination.
This film is set in a very melancholy fashion. Jean de Florette tells the first half of the classic tale of the hunchback Jean (Depardieu), a city-dwelling tax collector who inherits a small farm in rural France. Unhappy that their attempt to buy the place failed (after killing the former owner, even!), Cesar and Ugolin (Montand and Auteuil) scheme to drive Jean away, primarily through plugging up the natural spring on the land, leaving it dry as Oklahoma. But when the poor Ugolin and Jean become friends, the deception turns out to be bittersweet.
Extremely well-made movie of director Claude Berri’s, which is still the finest work. This touching tale is simple and concise. Depardieu and Auteuil are at their height as actors, and Berri’s widescreen panoramas of the beautiful — yet unforgiving — French countryside are unforgettable… A Highly recommended film.
This film had won but four BAFTA awards.