Sunday, October 12, 2008

Now THIS Is Drama! --- or --- Why You Should Watch "Jean de Florette"

by Jason Pyles

At the risk of seeming indecisive, I think we’ll go back to the two-weeks-per-film schedule. It appears that everyone is extremely busy (including me), so I’m hoping this might enable more people to watch the bi-weekly films, add posts and perhaps leave comments. I’ve also decided to make my posts shorter, in hopes that someone might read them.

“Jean de Florette” (1986) is an exceptional example of drama. Like most young males, I typically don’t love dramas, but this French film could convert even the shallowest action-flick junkie. On the Internet Movie Database, a Canadian named Jerome Morrow commented on “Jean de Florette” by writing, “Many producers spend a lifetime trying to make one of these … and never really come close.”

I couldn’t have said it better. Is it a masterpiece? Maybe, but I’d say not, since it’s a film I’ll probably only watch once, despite its greatness. In short, if the film’s cover photo, title and premise made you decide to pass on watching this movie, I strongly encourage you to reconsider.

Though “Jean de Florette” is a drama that tells a simplistic story, it has unsettling, simultaneous undertones of humor and horror. Without question, it’s an unpredictable movie with some alarming surprises.

I had no doubt that Mr. Torben Bernhard would dazzle me with his film choice, but in selecting this one, I think he’s outdone himself.

As a point of interest, “Jean de Florette” is the movie Torben chose, but it has a sequel called “Manon of the Spring” (also 1986), that I suspect is usually considered inseparable and part of the whole. In fact, the Netflix version includes the latter on the flipside of the DVD, probably because it’s technically Part II. The first was released in the U.S. in August 1987, and the sequel was released that December.

Yes, “Jean de Florette” ends most intriguingly in and of itself, but anybody who watches the first movie will insist on seeing what happens next. And though Part II is the lesser of the two films, overall, they’re both worth the nearly four hours of your time. Oh, and the first film’s MPAA rating would be PG, but the second film has one instance of female nudity, which I guess would clock in at PG-13 these days.

I’m going to conclude this post here, without discussing much of the film(s) directly, in hopes that this serves as motivation for you to check it out. I will probably write more later, but I’d like to see if anyone else has anything to say about it this week. You’ll be a better film lover for watching it.

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