(International sales: MKL, Paris.) Produced, directed, written by Samy Pavel, based on "Letters From My Windmill" and "La Petite Chose," by Alphonse Daudet; camera (color, widescreen), Nino Celeste; editor, Isabelle Dedieu; music , Klaus Schulze; sound (Dolby), Suzanne Durand; assistant director, Stanley Mangenot; casting, Juliette Thierree. Reviewed at Club de l'Etoile screening room, Paris, March 24, 1994. Running time: 100 MIN.

(International sales: MKL, Paris.) Produced, directed, written by Samy Pavel, based on “Letters From My Windmill” and “La Petite Chose,” by Alphonse Daudet; camera (color, widescreen), Nino Celeste; editor, Isabelle Dedieu; music , Klaus Schulze; sound (Dolby), Suzanne Durand; assistant director, Stanley Mangenot; casting, Juliette Thierree. Reviewed at Club de l’Etoile screening room, Paris, March 24, 1994. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: Jean-Pierre Lorit, Irene Jacob, Louis Lalanne, Robert Ripa, Arnaud Olivari, Christophe Hennes.

“Daudet’s Windmill,” a fetchingly lensed anthology of tales from the fanciful works of 19th-century writer Alphonse Daudet, takes the Classics Illustrated approach to revered literature. Prospects beyond French-speaking territories and classrooms look slim.

Daudet (Jean-Pierre Lorit, looking like a cross between grunge and dandy) scratches the nib of his pen on parchment in extreme close-up, prompting reminiscences and flights of imagination.

At its best, film resembles Pier Paolo Pasolini’s omnibus pix, sans the lascivious edge. Pic’s most lyrical passages are Daudet’s visit to a friend’s elderly grandparents and an extended fantasy about a precocious infant king on his deathbed. Final tale about a priest’s nervous visit to hell is a stagy, kitschy vision of corny devils roasting a man on a spit.

Irene Jacob is a pale, fleeting presence as Daudet’s mother in childhood flashbacks.

Pavel and d.p. Nino Celeste — who worked wonders in 1990’s “The Van Gogh Wake” — obviously relish the opportunity to bring historic tableaux to life. But however lovely the widescreen provincial vistas, too many passages smack of didactic illustration.

Daudet's Windmill

(FRENCH)

Production

An MKL release of an Anna Films/Uderzo Prods./Les Films du Seraphin production, with aid from the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
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