Marius (1931), Fanny (1932), and César (1933)

   Films. These three films, all connected to Marcel Pagnol, are some of the most beloved French films of all time. Marius (1931) was codirected by Pagnol and Alexander Korda, Fanny (1932) was directed by Marc Allegret, and César (1936) was directed by Pagnol himself. All three films were based on successful stage plays. Together they tell the story of the ill-fated romance between Marius (Pierre Fresnay) and Fanny (Orane Demazis). In Marins, the eponymous hero is the son of César (Raïmu), a tavern-owner in Marseille. He has no taste for the family business and dreams of running away to become a sailor. Fanny is promised to the much older Panisse (Fernand Charpin), but dreams of Marius. Marius and Fanny spend one night together, and then Marius goes to sea.
   Fanny continues the story. Fanny finds herself pregnant by Marius, who is away for five years and completely unaware of the situation. Fanny has to decide what to do. She consults numerous people in her life, including César and Panisse, who offers to marry Fanny and raise the child as his own. This is ultimately what she chooses to do. In César, we see the resolution of the situation. Panisse dies without telling his son, Césariot (André Fouché), that his real father is Marius. After Panisse's death, Césariot discovers the truth. He seeks out Marius, who has long since returned from sea and works as a mechanic. Posing as a reporter, Césariot attempts to learn about Marius. Due to a series of miscommunications, Césariot comes to believe that Marius is a criminal, and he resolves to have nothing to do with him. In the end, however, the truth comes out and reconciliation occurs.
   To the contemporary viewer, these films might seem a bit dated in their staging, as they are, in many ways, filmed staged plays. Pagnol, in fact, viewed cinema (at least sound cinema) as a means of fixing theatrical productions forever in time and transmitting them to a larger audience than the theater permitted. He evolved a theory of mise-en-scène that consisted of an attempt to reproduce the theater on the screen. The Trilogie marseillaise constituted his first serious effort at putting that theory into practice.
   Beyond their connection to Pagnol and his plays, the films mark the origin of a sort of provincial cinema in France that would influence filmmaking up to the present day. The evocation of life in Marseille in these three films is highly romantic and perhaps already even a bit nostalgic, since at the time they were made, the way of life they represented was already disappearing. The films also romanticize the Marseille accent, which was, until that point, looked down upon. Pagnol films have come over time to represent a rural, pastoral, and iconic France. These three films in particular hold a special place in French film history. Other Pagnol films have been remade in France, but no one has touched these, the originals being alive and well in film history and memory.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

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  • Marius (1931), Fanny (1932), and César (1933) —    Films. These three films, all connected to Marcel Pagnol, are some of the most beloved French films of all time. Marius (1931) was codirected by Pagnol and Alexander Korda, Fanny (1932) was directed by Marc Allegret, and César (1936) was… …   Guide to cinema

  • Fanny — (1932)    See Marius (1931), Fanny (1932), And César (1933).    Historical Dictionary of French Cinema by Dayna Oscherwitz & Mary Ellen Higgins …   Guide to cinema

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  • Marcel Pagnol — Born 28 February 1895(1895 02 28) Aubagne, France Died 18 April 1974(1974 04 18) (a …   Wikipedia

  • Pierre Fresnay — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Fresnay et Laudenbach. Pierre Fresnay Données clés Nom de naissance Pierre Jules Louis Laudenbach Naissance 4 avril 1897 Paris, France …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Raïmu — (1883 1946)    Actor. Born Jules Auguste Muraire in Toulon in southern France, Raïmu went on to become one of the most beloved character actors in French cinema. He began his career on the stage in Toulon, performing in local café concerts, quite …   Guide to cinema

  • Raïmu — (1883 1946)    Actor. Born Jules Auguste Muraire in Toulon in southern France, Raïmu went on to become one of the most beloved character actors in French cinema. He began his career on the stage in Toulon, performing in local café concerts, quite …   Historical Dictionary of French Cinema


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