Jean de Florette (1986)

Film and Plot Synopsis

Out in a rural French village, an old man lives on a farm with his only remaining relative. The two men are very interested in an adjoining but vacant property because it has a natural spring they can use to grow flowers for profit. They are soon dismayed to learn a hunch-backed man from the city has inherited this land, and plans to move in. They then conspire to plug the spring so this new man can not water his crops in the hot summer; hoping he will fail and sell the land for cheap. Though they observe his efforts break both his health and his wife and daughter’s hearts, the greedy men only think of the money that water will bring them.

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Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring (Double Feature)

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‘Jean de Florette’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains many spoilers and feeble attempts at humor.
Jean de Florette (1986)Jean de Florette is adapted from Marcel Pagnol’s all time classic novel. Proud, cocky French farmer schemes with is simple minded nephew to acquire some all important farmland by making sure the new owners do not discover a flowing natural spring of fresh water on the property.

The story takes place in a small village of Provence in Occitania, the south of France, shortly after the First World War. César Soubeyran – also known as Papet – and his nephew, Ugolin who has just come home from the battle fields, are desperate to buy a neighbouring farm after hearing of the death of its owner, for its water source.

The farm is then inherited by Jean, a hunchback tax collector from the city and one of the most rewarding roles of Gerard Depardieu, ever.

Learning this news, César and Ugolin block up the spring with concrete to force Jean to sell his land. Although Jean valiantly tries to reap the harvests of his land, struggling to bring water from a well many miles away and trying a modern approach to agriculture based on his literature knowledge, Jean, his wife, and daughter are reduced to poverty and desperation by the lack of water, while Cesar and Ugolin remain tight-lipped about the spring under Jean’s land.

In the end, Jean is killed in an accident as a result of an explosion while attempting to dig his own well to supply water to his land. Jean’s young daughter, Manon, has always been suspicious of the scheming duo.

Her suspicions are proven right when, following her father’s death as César and Ugolin finally buy the farm at a handy discount and force Jean’s widow Aimee and Manon off of the land.

The film ends as Manon discovers César and Ugolin opening up the water source that could have saved her family. An incredible end to an exquisite film.

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Orion Classics released Manon des Sources on December 4, 1987. Claude Berri directed the film starring Yves Montand, Emmanuelle Béart, and Daniel Auteuil.

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