La Gloire de Mon Père and Le Château de Ma Mère Blu Ray Review

In 1986 Gérard Depardieu burst on to the international film scene, already larger than life, in the beautiful, devastating epic Jean de Florette. The rest of his career is film history, but the role which introduced him to viewers the world over was the creation of novelist Marcel Pagnol.

Four years later, Yves Robert adapted Pagnol’s autobiographical novels La Gloire de Mon Père (My Father’s Glory) and Le Château de Ma Mère (My Mother’s Castle) for the screen with terrific success. Robert’s sumptuous double-bill has finally come, with little fanfare, to Blu-Ray. These two films, both released in 1990, should form the bedrock of every film-lover’s collection. Yet synopsising them is curiously difficult.

In La Gloire de Mon Père we meet little Marcel (Benoît Martin), the precocious first child of pretty but frail Augustine (Nathalie Roussel) and atheist schoolteacher Joseph Pagnol (Philippe Caubère), whom the boy idolises. Narrated by the adult Marcel, the film follows his early years, learning to read by accident at age two, playing unwitting Cupid to his aunt Rose (Therese Liotard) and uncle Jules (Didier Pain); his father’s “meteoric leaps” from a small-time suburban school to a prestigious academy in central Marseille and the birth of first his brother Paul and then their little sister.   The film truly takes off, however, when the family take a holiday in the hills of Provence. Here Marcel (now aged 11 and played movingly by Julien Ciamaca) comes of age, falling in love with the countryside and learning a few home truths about adults.

Le Château de Ma Mère picks up not very much later. Pining for his hills, his peasant friend Lili and the general milieu of freedom afforded him by Provence, Marcel is unable to concentrate on his studies and begs his parents to let the family return more often to the pastoral paradise. Events and subplots collude to bring his wish to fruition, and at last the Pagnol brood are installed semi-permanently in the rustic little village. Here our hero enters yet another rite of passage when he meets the beguiling little miss Isabelle – finding passion, humility and heartbreak in one fell swoop.

None of which sounds terribly exciting, yet the films are never anything but engaging, touching and entertaining, filled with the kind of little vignettes and farcical plot lines that make one chuckle and want to applaud for sheer joy as events play out.

The Blu-Ray has only one extra feature per disc, but they are worth the price: La Gloire de Mon Père features the documentary Pagnol’s Glory, including interviews with the real Marcel’s grandson Nicolas, while Le Château de Ma Mère has Filming Aunt Rose, in which Therese Liotard talks viewers through the filming of both instalments.

About The Author

Katherine hails from South Africa, where she subsidised her uncompleted Masters in Film Studies by trying to persuade students there was more to film than the oeuvre of Steven Spielberg. Her portfolio of film criticism includes film column “The Maguffin” for iafrica.com (where the controversial “What Could a Nice Girl Like Me Have Against Forrest Gump?” caused quite a stir), a year as DVD Review editor for FHM and a lifetime of utter, unrelenting geekdom. Passionate about film in its many forms, she has a particular fondness for the Marx Brothers and David Cronenberg, and a DVD collection that takes up half her lounge.

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