Since her birth, the little Sophie can not resist the temptation of the forbidden and what she loves most is to do stupid things with her cousin Paul. When her parents decide to visit ...
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Since her birth, the little Sophie can not resist the temptation of the forbidden and what she loves most is to do stupid things with her cousin Paul. When her parents decide to visit America, Sophie is delighted. A year later, she is back in France with her horrible stepmother, Mrs. Fichini. But Sophie is going to count on the help of her two friends, the little girls and their mother, Madame de Fleurville to escape the clutches of that woman.
I read some people complained because it's half "Malheurs De Sophie " half "Petites Filles Modèles " and Paul is absent in the second part ,apart from a dream (probably inspired by Bernard Deyriès 's animated TV series of the late nineties).Fans have to remember that "Les petites Filles Modèles" was actually the first book Ségur wrote;and "Les Malheurs De Sophie" was not even planned when " Les Vacances " ,the third part was intended as a follow-up ;in "Les Petites Filles Modeles",when Sophie appears ,whe know almost nothing from her past (" she lost her parents in a shipwreck") and never ,in a month of Sundays ,Sophie hints at her cousin Paul ,and for a good reason:the character did not exist then.
So why not mix the two stories? I guess the writers wanted to introduce Madame Fichini and to contrast this shrew with the sweet mom the poor little girl remembers dearly in the second part;IMHO,Sophie's biological mother is an ambiguous character ;there are lots of autobiographical elements in it: Ségur's mother ,an uncompromising Catholic ,and herself,whose husband (who appears in "les Vacances " as "Jean De Rugès " ,a simple anagram)was always away in Paris ,den of iniquity.
The first part is probably the most satisfying ,for the depiction of the father ,only a shadow, is faithful to the book;on the other hand ,Madame De Réan ,as recent studies have showed (notably Patrick Pipet's "Les Mysteres De Sophie" ),is not exactly the ideal mother;it's not a coincidence that the writer killed her fictitious mom and had Sophie welcomed in her home by Madame De Fleurville .Only a handful of Sophie's misfortunes was integrated in the screenplay ,for we know,almost from the start,that Sophie's family is to sail away to America where a friend of them left them a fortune .It was certainly a good idea to cast very young actors but Camille and Madeleine are not exactly the perfect little girls ;Paul is not the virtuous cousin who tries to keep Sophie on the straight and narrow .Impact is lacking and I do not think that children will be entertained that much with this rather bland screenplay ,in Harry Potter's time.
Hence the necessity to use "les Petites Filles Modèles" and Madame Fichini to enliven things a little...just a little for ,although Muriel Robin gives the best performance in the movie,her character was sweetened (after whipping her stepdaughter to bleeding ,she would tell her " now ,go and complain to your (dead) papa ! "the countess wrote in "Les Vacances " ).The two novels are linked together by a sinister painting and Madame De Fleurville's "account",a rather artificial technique .In that context ,the coming of a widowed Madame De Rosbourg and her daughter Marguerite does not make any sense (in "Les petites Filles Modeles " ,her husband is the captain of the ship lost at sea).
As an user has already (aptly) written ,the songs are anachronistic, pure filler : Paul's ditty must make the audience put their fingers in their ears ,and the Père Huq 's Chinese lament is not better : although this character is not featured in the trilogy ,it's not a screenwriters' invention ;The "Abbé Huc" appears in another book "Les Bons Enfants" ,in a chapter called "Les Chinois" in which Segur displays lots of humor,sometimes very black (or naivete,which comes to the same thing).And this missionary does love toad jam!
If I had to recommend a "Malheurs De Sophie" movie,it would be the animated TV series by Bernard Deyriès (1998) :it encompasses the whole trilogy ,and it's done with taste ,humor and emotion.Children should like it.
Jean-Claude Brialy's version (1979) is rather bland and listless ,and features a horrible song by Chantal Goya, of evil memory.
Strictly for adult cine buffs :Jacqueline Audry's version (1948) ,the very first of the women directors of the fifties ;it's got feminist accents and turns Sophie the rebellious child into a woman who will refuse her milieu when she grows up.
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