Manon des Sources (1986)

Manon des Sources (1986)

Director: Claude Berri

Cast: Yves Montand, Emmanuelle Beart, Daniel Auteuil

Runtime: 112 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Months after Jean de Florette was received warmly by the filmgoing public, Claude Berri released Manon des Sources, a continuation of the story that proved to be equally as brilliant as its prequel, if not moreso. In fact, Manon des Sources may well be the greatest sequel of all time. It certainly beats The Godfather: Part II, Back to the Future Part II and Lethal Weapon 2, my other favourite sequels. It is a powerful, haunting and completely unforgettable conclusion to a story that will stay with me forever.

It picks up many years after the conclusion of Jean de Florette, in which Cesar (Yves Montand) and Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) have acquired the property owned by the late Jean, whose death they are responsible for. Now, Cesar and Ugolin are enjoying the profitable farming business when Manon, the daughter of Jean, makes her subtle arrival and plots revenge for the death of her father. Ugolin becomes hopelessly smitten with her, but Manon will have none of it. She quickly puts her plan into action, and the results are absolutely devastating. I will reveal none of it, though if you’re reading this, I sincerely hope you’ve seen both films.

The chief difference between Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources is that the atmosphere and attitude of Manon is significantly darker. After the wonder and comedy of the first film, Manon sets in to make its point painfully clear, and as it moves on and on through to its stunning conclusion we can only feel the situation deteriorating for everyone involved. This will not end well. We know that from the start. But Berri is deliberately deceptive in tricking our thoughts and expectations. What starts off as a wondrous French comedy with elements of drama turns into something far, far darker completely unexpectedly. We feel things heading down a dangerous road but it’s not until Berri really shifts into gear halfway through this movie that we realize just how horrific this journey is about to become.

Manon des Sources’ devastation is necessary, I feel. Cesar and Ugolin have been horrible people, and while we certainly don’t hate them, it is obvious during Jean de Florette and especially at its ending that they deserve punishment. They seem to be dragging themselves carelessly along a road, ignoring the end in sight and welcoming the pain it brings. The relatively stolid Cesar finds his life falling apart toward the end of the film, as a blind woman tells him something he wasn’t expecting and we can see the tears welling in his eyes – and ours. Manon des Sources is a stunning and powerful conclusion to a story that is nothing short of heartbreaking; amazing to experience and even more profitable and expansive to reflect upon afterwards.

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Posted on August 25, 2012, in Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Good point about it being one of, if not the best sequel ever. I love that it is all so perfectly constructed that it actually changes the meaning of the first film.

  2. Great post looks like an interesting watch.

  3. Another solid review of a magnificent film Tyler. You’ve made me want to revisit these two classics. Thanks man.

  4. Two great movies…and I agree that this is one of the best sequels ever and better than the sequels to Back to the Future and Lethal Weapon, but I disagree that it’s better than Godfather II. I also think Jean de Florette is the better of the two movies, although I might enjoy Manon des Sources a little more.

    I actually took a class in college called Film & Lit, where we would read a book (or play), watch the film version, and then analyze and discuss. Of course, the two novels by Marcel Pagnol were on the list. Claude Berri did a wonderful job bringing those books to the screen, and of course casting was near perfect.

    Glad you watched them and enjoyed them. Reading your reviews reminded me that I haven’t seen these films in quite some time and I’m long overdue for a revisit.

  5. This one is my favorite of the two. Mlle Béart was so lovely in it.

  6. Random note, unrelated to your review, you haven’t been as active lately. Everything good friend?

    • Thanks Sam. Everything’s been fine, I’ve just been very busy. I’ve got a few posts lined up so I will be back to normal very soon.

  7. As I mentioned in my comment on Jean de Florette, that movie was the first foreign language film I ever saw. When a few months later Manon of the Spring turned up on Cinemax I immediately watched it. While I consider the first film to be better overall, this was still a worthy companion to it. And that’s actually what I consider it. I don’t really see it as a sequel, but more as simply the second part of the story.

    And this was the first film in which I ever saw the exquisitely beautiful Emmanuelle Beart. I had no trouble at all believing that Auteil’s character would become infatuated with her.

  8. This site is like a clrmoasos, except I don’t hate it. lol

  1. Pingback: Daniel Auteuil Manon Des Sources | top review 2016

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