Monday, 28 February 2011

Manon des Sources - part 2 of Jean de Florette

1986 by Claude Berri

About 10 years have passed after the tragic death of Jean the hunchback. Ugolin and his uncle, Cesar are very successful with their carnations farming. Manon the daughter of Jean has grown to a beautiful young girl and is a shepherdess. May be because of all the tragedies and the attitude of the villagers, they live a life in the wilderness keeping away from the villagers. There is a new character, Bernard, who is a teacher and there is some attraction between Bernard and Manon. Ugolin happens to see a dancing nude Manon and he is spell bound by her beauty. He tells Cesar, who has been always pushing him to get married, about her. Cesar hasnt seen her yet, and after watching her, without her knowledge, he tells Ugolin that she reminds him about Florette, a beautiful woman who was in the village and left village later. Ugolin proposes to Manon in a very strange manner and she is not affected at all by the proposal. Manon over hears two hunters talking about the spring and how the Soubeyran's and even the whole village was responsible for the death of Jean. May be this brought back all the bitter memories of her childhood. Because of one of her goats, she accidentally finds the source, responsible for all the water streams in the village. She blocks this source and lack of water affects the whole village. The priest even accuses that somebody amongst them are responsible for this. During a public gathering, Manon accuses the Soubeyrans', ie Ugolin and Cesar, of being responsible for the death of her father. Ugolin nearly agrees with Manon, but breaks out and proposes to Manon in public, offering her all what he have. She spits on him and runs away to Bernard. Cesar accuses the whole village for the death. Here Manon also announces that she is the grand daughter of Florette, which is a shocking news for the village. Ugolin hangs himself and Cesar is really struck by the death of his nephew. Bernard convinces Manon that, if her father knew about the spring he would have gladly shared it for the whole village and convinces her to open out the source. They open out the source and the villagers consider the arrival of water as a miracle. Manon marries Bernard and the whole village attends their wedding. Delphine an old blind woman meets Cesar outside the church and tells him about the grave mistake he did, by not replying to the letter of Florette. Cesar is surprised and says in military they did miss many letters and never received any letter from Florette. Delphine then reminds him about a night he spend with Florette, after which he went for military service. Florette got pregnant and she then wrote to Cesar about marriage and how she would wait for him. At the same time she was being teased by the whole village for being pregnant and since she never heard back from Cesar, she had tried to killed the baby in many ways without any results. That is when Florette left the village and finally married a black smith. Cesar wonders whether that child was alive and Delphine replies in affirmative, just that it was a hunch back. Cesar is heart broken and immediately finds he has lost all his strength and knows he is near death. He prepares a letter for Manon and dies that night.

This is not a typical part 2 of any popular movie, if both the part 1 and 2 were shown as a single movie, I am sure most people would have seen it in one go and still admired it as an epic movie. Manon des sources has some beautifully shot moments which I have to list out:

- the samll scene where Ugolin is spell bound by the beauty of Manon

- the public meeting to discuss the water problem when the Mayor boasts he has managed to find a water expert. Brilliant scene which really reminded me of one Malayalam classic by K G George - Panchavadippaalam.

- the public gathering where Manon accuses the Soubeyran's followed by Ugolin proposing and breaking down and Cesar accusing the village.

- the scene where Cesar is reading the death letter of Ugolin, what a touching letter. He dies not because he is accused of Jean's death or because of the loss in the farming, its because he knows Manon doesnt love him but more than that she loves Bernard, and Ugolin wants her to have all what he have.

- the scene where Delphin explains the Florette story and when Cesar realises that Jean was his own son

- and finally the scene where Cesar makes his letter for Manon, passing out all what he have to Manon.

The movie is beautiful, just that the above scenes stands out for their beauty, for how its directed and for the drama and emotion. The two death letters, of both Ugolin and Cesar, both are so touching that we wish Manon forgives them for all their sins.

The show stopper for me are Daniel Auteuil again and Yves Montand. Brilliant, excellent and brilliant. what can i say. The scene where Daniel shouts in the public meet that 'this is not just a problem but a catastrophe' immediately made me think about actors like Gopi and Nedumudi Venu in the Malayalam classic Panchavadippaalam.

I watch Emmanuelle Beart first in Belle des Noiseuse and that took me to Un Couer en hiver, which I consider as her best performance so far, from what I have seen. Its because of her I came across Manon des sources, in which she must be only 17/18 years old, and I saw Jean de Florette. Emmanuelle is so beautiful as Manon and there are excellent shots of her, accentuating her beauty. But performance wise, she has to give way for Daniel Auteuil and Yves Montand.

And if you ask me, Jean de Florette is better than Manon des Sources as a movie. I simply wish this should have been released as a single movie and have only one major doubt. How can a beautiful girl like Manon be living in the wild without ever being seen by most villagers.