881-884 The Marseille Trilogy

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Re: 881-884 The Marseille Trilogy

#76 Post by TMDaines » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:00 am

Really enjoyed this set. I agree with domino in the sense that it feels like a mini-series where just enjoy spending a number of hours with really enjoyable characters. I somewhat have been getting the same feeling watching Bernard’s Les miserables, and do enjoy longer, episodic forms of cinema more generally.

My favourite of three was Marius. It has the best plot and is wonderfully shot. The film has a real sense of place and feels like it exists in a living breathing environment. Fanny slackens a little in this regard, but was still my second of the trilogy. Raimu and Charpin carry the film wonderfully. I would watch these two interact all day. I'll probably vote for both of these in the 1930s ballot. Going back to the TV analogy, however, César feels somewhat like a one-off special to reunite the cast due to the success of the previous movies, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that is was purposely written later for the screen as opposed to being a play first. It’s not a bad film by any means, and I enjoyed the hours I spent with it, but I much prefer
the unrequited love of the first two, rather the strings all being tied up and the audience supposedly sent home happy in the third.
Having now consumed the set, it is interesting to go back to our discussion on the subtitling earlier, but as I cannot speak French I cannot talk in specifics. The subtitles are fine, but don’t seem to make any strong attempt to translate the cultural or flavour of the speech. It’s very Simple English overall. Good translation should do more than that and ensure the nuances and subtleties are delivered to the reader, even with concessions for readability. These subs have plenty of room to further translate the nuances of the speech throughout the films though. Thankfully, all the leads here are quite physical actors and very expressive with body language, so what the subtitles may lack in nuance and flavour, the actors can help fill in. Don’t get wrong, I am absolutely of the belief translation is hard and extremely underpaid, but there’s obvious room for improvement here, even if these are competent enough.

One thing not mentioned about the cuts above is that Pagnol in the extras talks about having cut the card playing scene himself on Marius as he didn't like the scene, so it wouldn't at all surprise me if he made cuts elsewhere such as in César, but we simply don't see him interviewed about those.

Regardless, this is one of the best boxsets that I ever bought, and this is why Criterion should exist. Highly recommended anyone buying it or even importing it.
lzx wrote:
Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:20 am
I read somewhere that Pagnol had a hand in directing the first and second entries as well -- is there any truth to this claim? Online English resources on these films are remarkably scarce (pre-Criterion) given how popular they seem to be in their native France.
Pagnol says in the extras on Fanny that Korda handled all the technical direction on Marius as he didn’t have a clue how to make a film, but he directed the actors and the dialogue. They got on very well it seems and were happy to work together. Interestingly, Pagnol was often off set as he was more interested in hearing the quality of how the dialogue and sound was being record, rather than watching the visual acting.

His grandson being interviewed on the disc for Marius states that he and Allégret butted heads during the making of Fanny as he did not expect Pagnol to be hands on with the cast and envisioned clear director and producer roles.

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Re: 881-884 The Marseille Trilogy

#77 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:01 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:39 pm
Would've been nice if they could have included the rare James Whale/Preston Sturges adaptation-- if you thought Logan's Fanny was condensed, that one's the whole trilogy in only 80 minutes!
Finally caught up Port of Seven Seas and to correct myself, it's actually just an adaptation of the middle entry, Fanny. I like Wallace Beery and Maureen O'Sullivan in other films, but they're poor fits for this material as Cesar and whatever Fanny is called in this version. Really have no idea what's going on with Beery's perf here at all. However, it's worth seeing for the absolutely inspired casting of Frank Morgan as Panisse. It never would have occurred to me beforehand but watching it I think this is literally the part he was born to play: bluster and foppish bravado mixed with sweetness and real heart, Morgan fits the character like a glove.

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Re: 881-884 The Marseille Trilogy

#78 Post by knives » Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:22 pm

Rereading this thread I guess I'm the loner who prefers Fanny to Marius. Both are excellent, but I feel the dramatic backbone of the pregnancy is more personally affecting than Marius' selfish dreams. Perhaps, especially nowadays, the question posed in the first is more important to consider, to what degree is it good to do what is right for you at the cost of others, but that eternal drama of the wedless mother hits me in a far harder way.

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Re: 881-884 The Marseille Trilogy

#79 Post by John Shade » Sun Apr 12, 2020 10:23 pm

I finally got around to watching these recently and had been wanting to post some kind of reflection. First off, my thoughts are quite similar to Knives above. I think I prefer Fanny of all three films. This is especially because of the way Panisse is handled in the movie (Panisse, Fanny, Cesar are probably my favorite characters, which is also probably why Marius is my least favorite of the trilogy). That being said there is no real villainy in these movies; there doesn't seem to be much cliche either, even as the storylines fall into some classic modes.

I'm sorry if this sounds either pretentious or wrong but for some reason these movies remind me of Chekhov's stories. Chekhov started his career writing some goofy comedy--maybe not exactly hiding hats on large rocks, but certainly some silliness. Then of course he "matured" to the great short story writer he became. I think these films combine those elements. There is a warmth to them, a slice-of-life approach that also touches on the significance of ordinary life, and then there is a turn to goofiness. There are so many moments throughout the trilogy, for lack of a better term, that just seem to show these characters hanging out and goofing around. I would have gladly accepted a Part 2 to Cesar; I look forward to exploring some of the bonus content on these discs too.

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Re: 881-884 The Marseille Trilogy

#80 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Apr 13, 2020 12:01 am

Fanny definitely feels the most like a play adaptation, and bears the strengths of cutting melodrama in an incredibly confined space, physically and emotionally. The ethical dilemmas that arise in contrast to idealism are treated fairly, and the psychological barriers to social transparency are heartbreaking. It may be the best dramatic entry riding on these strengths, but Marius is the most enjoyable for me and might get my vote, though Cesar was initially my favorite when I caught it on the old Kino dvd because of Cesar's depth, especially in the first act. The film may be disheveled but I appreciate the scope and watching characters reaching catharsis through a mix of fate, will, and the influence of social support in motivating and recognizing opportunities, which is basically what life participation is in my eyes. I think all three are so strong in their own distinct ways that they're barely worth trying to rank.

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