(La Gloire de mon pere)

Directed by Robert Yves. France. 1990.

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"Loving voices of old companions, stealing out of the past once more, And the sound of the dear old music, soft and sweet as in days of yore"*

Based on "Memories of Childhood", autobiographical stories by filmmaker, playwright and author Marcel Pagnol (Jean de Florette, Manon of the Spring), My Father's Glory is the heartwarming story of a loving family and a happy childhood. Directed by Robert Yves and narrated by Marcel as an adult, the film takes place at a time when life was simple and the possibilities endless. It is the story of 11-year old Marcel (Julien Ciamaca) who spends his summer vacation with his family in the south of France and comes away with a deeper understanding of nature and a stronger bond with Joseph (Phillippe Caubere), his intelligent and funny schoolteacher father. Set around the turn-of-the-century, the film has an impeccable sense of time and place and you are guaranteed to fall in love with the humming cicadas, the fig and olive trees, and the rocky crags of Provence.

Vacationing with the family are the pompous but kindly Uncle Jules (Didier Pain), a strong Catholic and his wife Aunt Rose (Therese Liotard). Marcel's father is Protestant but anti-religious so Marcel's lovely mother, Augustine (Nathalie Roussel) must walk a tightrope to ensure that dinner conversations stay away from religion. Marcel's relationship with his father is warm and loving but takes on an added dimension when he sees his father shoot down two rare partridges during a hunting trip and show them off to the village. Personally, I wish he had found a different way to glorify his father than to take pleasure in the shooting down of these lovely birds, but this was a long time ago. 

Marcel soon develops a friendship with Lili des Bellons (Joris Molinas), a local boy of his own age who comes to his rescue when he is lost in the woods trying to keep up with the hunters. Lili and Marcel become fast friends, both educating the other about things unfamiliar to them. Lili teaches Marcel about the hills and woods of the French countryside and Marcel tells Lili about department stores and other strange goings-on in the big city. Their relationship is so real that when they part company at the end of summer, there is an atmosphere of abiding sadness. 

My Father's Glory unfolds episodically and not much happens but it never seems disjointed or lacking in unity. If you are looking for an escape from our artificial civilization and its so-called pleasures, you will find a perfect release in watching this loving memoir of an idyllic time. Beautifully acted, superbly photographed, and enhanced with an evocative score by Vladimir Cosma, My Father's Glory is... well…glorious. After seeing this film, you might very well decide (like Marcel) to become a hermit and live among the owls.

The sequel to this is My Mother's Castle.

Howard Schumann
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