Cesar | Chicago Reader


For the next two weeks Gene Siskel Film Center presents a new digital restoration of Marcel Pagnol's beloved "Marseille Trilogy," three long dramatic features—Marius (1931), Fanny (1932), and César (1936)—about a fractured family in the French seaside town. A tale of parenthood and its heartache, the movies struck an emotional chord in France and were enormously successful. Critics noted their lack of visual invention, calling them "canned theater," but the movies, arriving near the dawn of the talkies, laid down a marker of sorts with their resolutely theatrical style. Pagnol was a popular playwright in Marseille before he got into movies, and both Marius and Fanny had originated on the stage before he produced them for the screen. "The talking film is the art of printing, fixing, and propagating theatre," he once wrote, and to that end, the trilogy's sedate visual style focuses one's attention on the actors and their simple, eloquent dialogue. None are shown to greater advantage than Orane Demazis as the self-sacrificing mother figure in Pagnol's story and Raimu as the disappointed father figure. Continue reading >>


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