Jeremy Strong
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Adapting Pagnol and Provence
in French literature on screen
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Unusually for adaptations, the films examined in this chapter have not followed the familiar trajectory of novel-film, but rather film-novel-film; an adaptive journey which reflects Pagnol’s identity as a multimedia author. Responding to Pagnol’s original 1952 film, Andre Bazin wrote that Pagnol gave Provence its universal epic. Hence, even before the novels, Pagnol and this story were inextricably associated with Provence. Pagnol later novelized his own Manon into L’Eau des collines in 1962. Finally, in 1986 – eleven years after his death – the constituent stories of L’Eau des collines were adapted as the films Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. They achieved both critical and commercial success, nationally and internationally, though it was domestically that they achieved their greatest box-office success. Importantly, the films were also a notable example of a concerted effort on the part of the French government of the time to support and promote cinema that foregrounded French history and culture, especially in the face of competition from Anglophone filmmakers.

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