Manon of the Spring (1986) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
Manon of the Spring is the sequel to Jean de Florette, and is also named Jean de Florette, Second Part, in the opening titles.
|In the first part, a city family moves to rural France with great dreams. The citified father is an educated hunchback (Gerard Depardieu), who plans to start a new life as a farmer, and has read every book he could find on the subject. A local patriarch sabotages the man's plans by blocking the source of water necessary to run the farm. The hunchback still did not give up, and worked 24/7 to haul water from the nearby town, but the great effort killed him. The patriarch was able to buy the "waterless" land for nothing, re-open the spring, and give his nephew a career income, raising flowers on the renascent land.||
|This movie has seeped into the popular
culture of France, of films in general, and even of the
United States. If you remember the episode of the
Simpsons where Bart was sent to France as an exchange
student, you may remember that he was turned into a
virtual slave laborer by Ugolin and Cesar - the names of
the loutish nephew and the patriarch. (Daniel Auteuil and
"Manon" occurs about a decade later, and is the revenge of the hunchback's daughter, who comes back to the tiny rural Provence community as a grown and beautiful woman, and eventually develops a complex plan to destroy the arrogant Cesar and pathetic, love-smitten Ugo.
While the first film is a straightforward character-based narrative which represents an uncompromising portrait of the ugly side of human nature, the second film has more complex twists and turns in the plot. In fact it even has an O Henry ending which I'm about to tell you, so you may want to skip the next paragraph.
turns out that the hunchback he destroyed was the very
son that Cesar always wished for, and that therefore the
woman who destroyed him, and caused Ugo to hang himself,
was his own granddaughter. So in the end, he got the
perfect consequences for his acts. All of his evil
scheming was based on defending his family against
"outsiders", but he did have a sense of values,
and prized his family. It was thus fitting that his
vicious plot destroyed the closest family he had. In the
tragic ending, his granddaughter is having a joyous
wedding. We see him carrying flowers toward the church,
but he is not invited. Instead, he places the flowers on
a nearby grave.
It is considered a great movie, and fairly so, although the web it spins is slowly spun. Yves Montand (real name Ivo Livi) is exceptional as Cesar.
Return to the Movie House home page