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Cesar (BFI Film Classics)by Stephen Heath
Synopses & Reviews
The writer and director Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974) is today perhaps best known outside France as a result of the international acclaim garnered by film adaptations of his novels Jean de Florette and Manon des sources. He wrote César (1936), which brought to a close the hugely popular "Marseille trilogy," directly for the screen. Although the trilogy's first two films--Marius (1931) and Fanny (1932)--were not directed by Pagnol, he played a substantial part in their making, and the trilogy overall was very much his work.
After mapping Pagnol's career and situating his turn to cinema in the context of the coming of "talking pictures," Stephen Heath discusses César and its relation to the Marseille trilogy. In so doing, he considers questions of speech and accent, cinema and theatricality, stereotypes and the film's cultural effects. Above all, he looks at César's relation to the contemporary artistic and historical reality of Marseille, the locale of the trilogy and in many ways its main character.
Bringing to a close his "Marseille" trilogy, Cesar was one of Marcel Pagnol's most significant projects. This text reviews the questions that Pagnol posed in the film, looking at how he reflected the contemporary and artistic culture of the city, around which the trilogy was based.
About the Author
Stephen Heath is a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. He is the author of Questions of Cinema (1985), among other books.
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