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My Father's Glory (1990)

Cast: Philippe Caubère, Nathalie Roussel, Didier Pain, more...
Director: Yves Robert
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: MGM
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Biopics, France
Running Time: 110 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

This 1990 French film presents idyllic episodes from the childhood of novelist and filmmaker Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974). Together, the episodes present a portrait of an ordinary family with an extraordinary ability to love. Set in Provencal in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the film first introduces members of the family, including Marcel (Julien Ciamaca). When he is still a preschooler, his father Joseph, a teacher, takes him to classes to watch over him. Marcel, however, learns along with the other children and starts to read out loud in class. Astonished, Joseph (Philippe Caubère) writes a sentence on the blackboard and asks, "What does that say?" Marcel, reading the words, says, "The father is proud of his little boy." This little scene establishes the tone and meaning of the film. Flashing ahead seven years, the camera then follows the Pagnols after they leave Marseilles for a summer vacation in the Provencal countryside, there to bask in the simplicity of rural life. From then on, it is not what happens to the family that engages audiences; it is how it happens -- with a quiet exuberance and joie de vivre. Besides Marcel and his father, the vacationers include his mother, Augustine (Nathalie Roussel), a beautiful and kindly homemaker; Marcel's little brother Paul (Victorien Delamare); and his Uncle Jules (Didier Pain) and Aunt Rose (Thérèse Liotard). After they arrive at their cottage, 11-year-old Marcel wastes no time wading into the greenery in search of adventure. What he finds is another adventuresome boy, Lili de Bellons (Joris Molinas), a native of the region. They become friends and fellow explorers, capturing cicadas, climbing rocks, and even invading an eagle's cave. Sometimes they just have fun shouting to hear an echo boomeranging back. At meal times -- often outdoors -- fresh fruit and good-natured repartee satisfy appetites. For spectator sport, the diners listen to the occasional religious arguments between Uncle Jules, a God-fearing Catholic, and Joseph, a God-doubting agnostic. Augustine and Aunt Rose avoid the polemics, for they have more important matters on their minds: keeping house, watching children, and planning the next day's menu. And then the film takes a turn toward real drama. Uncle Jules, full of tales about his prowess as a hunter, persuades Joseph, full of ignorance about guns and hunting, to go on a bird hunt. Woe is Papa, Marcel thinks. When the day of the great hunt arrives, Marcel secretly follows Joseph and Uncle Jules into the woods, setting the stage for the film's climactic moment. ~ Mike Cummings, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

An Infectious Love by tungwaiyip October 1, 2006 - 8:42 AM PDT
Wouldn't it be great to be a child again? For even everyday life can be a great adventure. For little boy Marcel, the family's summer vacation in the mountains of Provence was dearly remembered as the 'happiest days in his life'. The countryside, the mountains, the sound of cicadas, everything drew him like magic. Opening the bedroom's shutter to take in the mountain view became a ritual the brothers looking forward to every morning. Together with a local pal Lili, they set out to explore a new world.

The family's joyful experience and the call of the nature are simply infectious.

the feel-good movie of 1990 by alexjb January 11, 2006 - 6:28 PM PST
this is a pretty simple movie. no challenges, no strife, no deep undercurrents. i was left wanting more, perhaps because i was expecting ... well... something to happen?

most of the movie has voice-over by the main character, the first son of a French schoolteacher. that helps character development along a little bit, of course, though it can be kind of a storytelling crutch...

anyway, the characters are pretty enough, likable enough. we cover more of this kid's youth than we really need to, except to prove that he and his father are exceptional and that his mother is exceptionally dim (apparently, French wives in this time period were prized for their beauty, not their brains). but hey, it's seen through his rose colored glasses, so we'll cut them some slack.

anyway, things progress to vacation in Provence, where we think 'aha! something will happen!'. but nothing exceptional really does.

meanwhile, although there are some nice vistas of Provencial countryside, there was nothing that really took my breath away. nor is the dialog terribly clever (granted i'm not fluent in french, but this is by no means a dialog movie).

overall, i guess it could be good if you just want to let your eyes glaze over and watch a movie in which everything works out... or maybe it would be good for kids...

Throw Away The Prozac by squad August 29, 2004 - 10:03 AM PDT
6 out of 7 members found this review helpful
We can pretend for awhile can't we? Here is a delicious romanticized escape to the hills of Provence with picture-perfect parents and friends and relatives. "Never is heard a disparaging word...." The music matches the theme and I found myself feeling very happy experiencing youth as perhaps it ought to be. Was it ever this good? For anybody? Subtitles of course, but the lilting French just adds to the delight of the film. Sequel ("My Mother's Castle") is "equel".

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.94)
47 Votes
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Coming of Age
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French films with French subtitles that closely match the spoken dialog. Useful for learning French language and pronunciation. Should be some here for all tastes. I'd love to know of others!

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