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At the beginning of the 20th century, in the North of the Province of Quebec. After five years spent in a boarding school, Maria Chapdelaine comes back to the family farm. Robert Gagnon, a villager and childhood friend, loves her secretly but Maria is wooed by Lorenzo Surprenant, a man who has fled his home town to escape the police. The one she is really in love with is François Paradis, a handsome trapper. The latter promises to marry her in the spring, as soon as he is back from the Far North. Robert, who is aware of how miserable Maria is, writes a letter to François , asking him to come back at once. Unfortunately, the young trapper is buried under the snow during a storm. As for Lorenzo he gets gunned down by the police. Finally understanding that Robert has sacrificed himself out of love for her, Maria accepts to become his wife. Written by
Not really a film version of Louis Hémon's Maria Chapdelaine
Other than the general setting and a few plot points, this movie has nothing in common with Louis Hémon's novel Maria Chapdelaine. It tells the rather confusing story of Maria, who has returned home to Péribonka in northern Québec province after having lived in a convent for 5 years, and the men who fall in love with her: Robert Gagnon, a neighbor (Eutrope Gagnon in the novel), Lorenzo Surprenant, who is this movie is the neer-do-well son of Ephrem Surprenant, someone who left Péribonka to become involved in bank robberies, and François Paradis, as in the novel a north woodsman and lumberjack. This Maria gets all bent out of shape when she sees François with another woman, then falls in love with Lorenzo for no clear reason. Robert Gagnon is so self-sacrificing that he writes to FP and tells him to come back to Maria because she really loves him. (FP tries to do so, but dies in a snow storm.) Lorenzo is involved in a robbery in Québec City, and when he comes back to Péribonka to declare his love one last time to Maria, the police follow him. For no good reason, and even through Maria has just told him that she loves him, he rides toward the police and gets shot. Maria ends up with Robert Gagnon because she learns how self-sacrificing he had been.
Most of the important issues in the novel never show up in this movie. It could still be judged on its own merits, but I find those to be few, as the character motivation is often confusing - and I've sat through it twice.
It is also mildly strange that almost all the male roles are assigned to English actors, who are then dubbed. (I wonder if there is an English-language version of the movie in which the French actresses are dubbed.) In the end, I can't think of any reason for recommending this movie. Michèle Morgan is very beautiful, of course, but she really over-plays her part, and comes off as melodramatic.
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