The original version of Manon des Sources directed by Marcel Pagnol tells the story of Manon, a girl living in the mountains, who decides to block the spring supplying the water to the village. Manon wants to have revenge on the inhabitants of the village that ignored her father when he was killing himself to find precious water for his own land.
This story sounds familiar to some people as being the second part of Claude Berri's 1986 remake. Not only the story is different, but the style of the original movie is too. Pagnol uses a very less dramatic way to tell that poignant story although some scenes are, like Manon confronting Ugolin and the villagers after the sermon. As in other Pagnol movies, the funny dialogs make the movie. The story of the hunchback told by Monsieur Belloiseau and the trial of Manon are elements that are absent in the remake and that are delightful here. These and the priest sermon are exceptionally entertaining. That contrast in style is certainly a reason why the remake did an excellent job compared to most.
The acting here is of superior level and especially Rellys as Ugolin. The cast of the remake had to be top-notch and again it was. The cinematography is beautiful with light effects that recreate the warmth of Provence. Again, the remake had it too by adding color.
The remake had the ingenuity of depicting the story of Jean de Florette in images and involving Le Papet much more in the story. I don't know which story is the most faithful to Pagnol's novel though.
The Pagnol movie may not be as entertaining to non-French speakers because the dialogs have a higher importance than in Berri's. I doubt that subtitles could render the feeling and I'm convinced that dubbing wouldn't. Nevertheless, it's surely a feast for the ears of a French speaker.
Still, Pagnol's Manon des Sources is amazing and Berri's remake had the intelligence to be different. It also had the approach to catch an international audience. If you liked the remake, give the original a try.
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