Marcel Pagnol’s Marseille trilogy is one of the towering achievements of
French cinema, and one of the best-loved: though deeply anchored in regional
particularities, it is a love story of universal reach that achieves lyrical heights
with local vernacular and never deviates from the wry humanism that made
Pagnol one of the leading playwrights of the pre-war period. The trilogy opens
with Marius, in which the titular character and son of César, the owner of a
café on Marseille’s harbor, must decide between marrying his childhood
sweetheart Fanny and fulfilling his dream of being a sailor. Fanny, the second
film in the trilogy, relates Fanny’s wedding to the shopkeeper Panisse and
the birth of her son with Marius. Life follows its quiet course until Marius
returns from the high seas. The final film, César, picks up twenty years later,
when Marius and Fanny are finally reunited. A triumph of closely observed,
lovingly mocking characterization that is epic in its scope but rarely strays
from Marseille’s waterfront, this romance also features one of the great film
performances: as the old-fashioned but warmhearted patriarch César, Raimu
started the line of burly but vulnerable French leading men that includes
Michel Simon and Gérard Depardieu.
MARIUS (Alexander Korda)
FANNY (Marc Allégret)
CESAR (Marcel Pagnol)
MARIUS (1931) – 127 min.
FANNY (1932) – 127 min.
CESAR (1936) – 142 min.
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