Jean de Florette
Jean de Florette is a 1986 French period drama film directed by Claude Berri, the first of two films adapted from the 1966 two-volume novel The Water of the Hills by Marcel Pagnol, followed by Manon des Sources. The film takes place in rural Provence, where two local farmers scheme to trick a newcomer out of his newly inherited property. At the time the most expensive French film ever made, it was a great commercial and critical success, both domestically and internationally, and was nominated for eight César awards, and ten BAFTAs.
Jean de Florette
- I'll never sell the house where my mother was born, and where I hope to live forever until I die as a rich man! We can get by quite well on four thousand francs! I'll buy a mule, a load of miner's tools, and some dynamite to blast this damn rock! In a year I'll pay off the mortgage, and we'll be set!
- It's over here. See. The spring was by the fig tree. Don't look back! Old man Camoins dug a trench that went down to the end of the field there. That way, the water just ran downhill. Understand? Look by my foot. See how soggy the ground is? The water's blocked, but it'd be easy to release it. That slob let it all go to waste!
- He'll sell. A pen makes less blisters than a pickax. A farmer may grow a hump, but a hunchback rarely becomes a farmer. Who would have thought that Florette would give birth to a hunchback?
- Assessing Jean's likelihood of selling his inheritance.
- If you start to strangle a cat, finish it off!
- In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I hereby name you King of Carnations!
- To Ugolin
- It's not me that's crying. It's my eyes.
- Ugolin: Is that why you rented this old farm?
- Jean: I didn't rent it.
- Ugolin: Did you buy it?
- Jean: I didn't buy it either, but it's all mine.
- Ugolin: You're not Jean de Florette, are you?
- Jean: I'm Jean, and my mother was Florette. But my real name is Jean Cadoret.
- Ugolin: If you'd been born here, it would be Jean de Florette.
- Cesar: Now let's talk about other things. I'm going to write to Scratcher.
- Ugolin: Who's she?
- Cesar: You don't know her because she left here before you were born. She had the body of an angel. They called her Scratcher because when the boys tried to kiss her she scratched their faces. She used to sharpen her nails especially. But because of this she ended up a spinster and when her parents died she went to work for the priest at Mimet. About 4 or 5 years ago the pope moved him to Crespin and she should still be with him.
- Ugolin: So long as she didn't scratch him.
- Cesar: Oh, at her age you don't scratch people, and because she was a friend of Florette she must still visit her. I'm going to write immediately.
- Ugolin: And if she's dead?
- Cesar: Not everyone my age is dead.
- Jean: [shouting at the sky, as rainclouds he'd hoped for are blocked by the hills] I'm a hunchback! Have you forgotten that? Do you think that's easy?
- Aimee: Jean...
- Jean: Isn't there no one, anybody up there? There's nobody up there! I'm a hunchback! Do you think that's easy? There's nobody up there.
- Yves Montand - César Soubeyran, "Le Papet"
- Daniel Auteuil - Ugolin
- Gérard Depardieu as Jean Cadoret / "Jean de Florette"
- Élisabeth Depardieu - Aimée Cadoret
- Ernestine Mazurowna - Manon Cadoret
Quotes about Jean de Florette
- In the middle of a drought, a farmer is desperate to borrow a mule to help haul water from a nearby spring. He asks his neighbor for the loan of the animal. The neighbor is filled with compassion and sympathy, but simply cannot do without his mule, which he needs in order to farm his own land and provide for his own family.
As the neighbor rejects the request, his face is so filled with regret you'd have little doubt he is one of the best of men.
Actually, he is a thief. And what he is stealing is the joy, the hope and even the future of the man who needs the mule. Jean de Florette is a merciless study in human nature, set in Provence in the 1920s. It's the story of how two provincial French farmers systematically destroy the happiness of a man who comes out from the city to till the land.
- There are not a lot of highly charged closeups, to turn the story into a series of phony high points. Instead, so many of the shots are surrounded by the landscape and the sky, and there is one enormously dramatic set piece when the sky fills up with rain clouds, and the thunder roars and the rain seems about to come. And then, as Depardieu and his family run outside to feel it against their faces, the rain falls elsewhere and Depardieu shakes his fist at the heavens and asks God why he has been forsaken.
But God has not double-crossed him, his neighbors have. And the enormity of their crime is underlined by the deliberate pace of this film, which is the first installment of a two-part epic … We realize here that human greed is patient, and can wait years for its reward. And meantime daily life goes on in Provence, and neighbors pass the time of day and regret that it is impossible to make a loan of a mule.
- Roger Ebert, in his review in the Chicago Sun-Times (7 August 1987)
- The plot of Jean de Florette is as melodramatic as any soap opera, but its treatment is just a little askew, just off-center enough for the film to evolve into a moving and powerful pastoral tragedy. The film is a naturalistic story about the dehumanizing effect of greed on a community and on the human soul. Watching the hunchbacked Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu) struggle against all odds to keep his small farm alive, maintaining to the bitter end his optimism and naïve faith in his reference books, is like watching Sisyphus make his daily toil up the hill.
- Dan Jardine, in review at AllMovie