Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bon Voyage, Claude Berri...

Two films had a massive influence on me growing up, both of which formed the nucleus of my attraction to France and all things French.

The first one was 'Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown', which I first saw when I was 7. If you haven't seen it, don't laugh. This is a poignant, atmospheric tale of exchange students (Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, Snoopy, Woodstock, et al.) who find themselves deep in the French countryside, surrounded by romanticism and intrigue. So very French. Sure it was a cartoon, but from the moment I watched their little 2 CV pull out of Paris and head down the dark, tree-lined lane to the Chateau du Malvoisin, I was hooked. The Duke recently found it for me online, and watching it all these years later brings back all the excitement I felt when I first saw it.

The second film I saw when I was around 13 or 14 was 'Jean de Florette'. This Marcel Pagnol novel adapted to the screen was enough to seal my love affair with France and put me on the road that would eventually lead me to study French Literature and come to France. A bit dramatic, maybe, but if you have seen the film, then you'll know what I'm talking about.

From the film's music, to the Provence landscape and the way the sun shone on the stones and olive trees, this film has to be one of the best pieces of French tourism promotion ever made. And even if at the age of 13 I didn't fully understand the words or the sentiments of the film, I still 'got' it. A Gérard Depardieu poster even got pride of place next to my Rob Lowe and Rick Springfield posters, hunchback and all.

So it's sad to see that the film's directer, Claude Berri, passed away yesterday, at the age of 74. Known as the 'Godfather of French cinema' and after almost 50 years in the business, he will surely be missed by film enthusiasts around the world. I for one am grateful for his work. After all, it's partly his fault I'm here...

3 comments:

Isabelle said...

Yes, Claude Berri did make some great films!
Did you see "Le vieil homme et l'enfant"? It's a wonderful movie really worth seeing...

softinthehead said...

I can really relate to what you have said here. When I was in school in French class once we were shown a film, I cannot for the life of me recall the story otherwise I would try and find it to watch again, but the atmosphere of the film struck a chord - it was so "french", I loved it and it stays with me to this day.

purejuice said...

i came to this and manon des sources late in life and am ... swept away.