Jean de Florette (1986)
Despite rotten weather and the final of Strictly Come dancing we welcomed 57 people to watch this show. As usual we kicked off with a short film: Silent Nights by Aske Bang. This was themed with the main film as usual, being set at Christmas time and also about immigration. A moving film with excellent acting, despite the plot seeming a little contrived in places.
For what it's worth, my view of Jean de Florette was that it was a decent film - this is a higher level of praise than may be implied from the phrase as for me, films have to have a happy ending to be good, yet this one did not. I was not troubled by the sub titles despite finding the dialect of French skewed from what little of the 'standard' form I remember from many years ago.
We were happy to donate the evening's raffle prize takings to Nassia as she begins to raise funds for her travel to Borneo, and offer her a table from which to sell her home made sweatmeats.
I am not sure why I love this film so much since the story revolves around doing a man down in order to gain, but I enjoyed it again last evening. The Provençal setting is so beautiful with the tumbledown farmhouses scattered over the hillside in various stages of ruin and mules being the only means of transport. There are three reasons for the locals to dislike the newcomer to the region, firstly he is a hunchback, secondly he comes from the city and lastly he had been a tax collector. Jean works everything out mathematically so in theory he can't fail to succeed to farm rabbits and grow Chinese marrows and sweet corn. Jean's neighbour appear's to assist him, gives advice, listens to his plans, lends him his mule, but he and his uncle, Papet, have purposefully dammed up the spring that is rightfully his, denying him even the barest living. Jean's little daughter, Manon, more perseptive than her father, dislikes the neighbour from the beginning, and at the end of the film she discovers him and Papet unblocking the stream and sees the gushing water, the lack of which had killed her father. This film is part one of the story and I shall be nominating 'Manon de Source', the sequel, for the next ballot of titles to be shown and urge everyone to vote for it.
The short film linked with the main feature in that it, too, portrayed the difficulties between cultures and circumstance. A moving, concise story about a black migrant from Ghana, Kwame, living in Denmark and a volunteer worker, Inger, at the Salvation Army shelter he frequents. Kwame, because of the dire necessity of his family in Ghana, proves to be dishonest but Inger is truly altruistic in spite of that.
The strong discussion group were knowledgeable about Jean de Florette, more than one had read Marcel Pagnol's book, and the film was generally liked as was the short film, although one man found the love entangle between Kwame and Inger rather contrived, slightly embarrassing and cliche driven. Another however admired the film's capability to convey so much in thirty minutes. Sonia