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Manon of the Spring

Manon des Sources is the poignant, but more dramatically wobbly, followup to Jean de Florette, producer-director Claude Berri's risky two-film adaptation of a novel by Marcel Pagnol, who, unsatisfied with his own next-to-last feature in 1952, expanded it as a two-part novel.

Manon des Sources is the poignant, but more dramatically wobbly, followup to Jean de Florette, producer-director Claude Berri’s risky two-film adaptation of a novel by Marcel Pagnol, who, unsatisfied with his own next-to-last feature in 1952, expanded it as a two-part novel.

When Pagnol filmed his own Manon des Sources, he came up with a picture running just under four hours. Berri had the obligation of squeezing this more diffuse material into a conventional feature length span – hence the feeling of haste and cut corners.

Manon takes place some 10 years after the action of Jean de Florette. Manon, the hunchback’s daughter, grown into a beautiful young woman who now lives in the hills as a reclusive shepherdess, learns the treachery that brought about her father’s death and exacts vengeance on Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil and the village by blocking up the subterranean spring that provides water to the area. The resulting crisis brings about a public reckoning and the open accusation of Montand and Auteuil, plus a final revelation.

Auteuil is again superb as the ratty unmalicious nephew, Ugolin, and triumphs over the sometimes cramped dramaturgy, notably in his declaration of love to Manon in the hills. Berri is unable to overcome the inherent feebleness of the Manon character, here played ineffectually by the lovely and talented Emmanuelle Beart. As with Florette, tech credits are smart.

Manon of the Spring

France - Italy

  • Production: Renn/Films A2/DD/RAI-. Director Claude Berri; Producer Pierre Grunstein; Screenplay Claude Berri, Gerard Brach; Camera Bruno Nuytten; Editor Genevieve Louveau, Herve de Luze; Music Jean-Claude Lepetit; Art Director Bernard Vezat
  • Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1986. Running time: 113 MIN.
  • With: Yves Montand Daniel Auteuil Emmanuelle Beart Hippolyte Girardot Elisabeth Depardieu Margarita Lozano
  • Music By: