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Marcel Pagnol

A protean artist (writer, playwright, filmmaker) Marcel Pagnol is one of the most popular French-speaking authors. Often autobiographical, his books and films embody the French art of living and were, during his lifetime, acclaimed by both the general public and critics. This native of Bouches-du-Rhône was the first filmmaker elected to the Académie française in 1946.

Some biographical references

Born in Aubagne in 1895, this son of a teacher and a seamstress knew very early that he wanted to be a writer and, after studying literature at the University of Aix-en-Provence, he moved to Paris in 1924 and began writing plays. The first one, Merchants of Glory, was rejected by critics but this did not discourage the young Marcel Pagnol who, with Topaze and then Marius, met with great success.
He was not satisfied with this success and, after attending one of the first talking film screenings in London, he decided to launch himself into the 7th art. His adaptation of Marius was a triumph and Fanny and Caesar, the other 2 parts of his Marseilles Trilogy, were also acclaimed. Since then, they have become staples of French culture thanks to their numerous TV broadcasts and/or remakes.

Buoyed by these various successes, this descendant of a Spanish family founded his production company and film studios in Marseille in 1934, where he had the great actors of the time (Raimu, Fernandel...) and where he directed, in particular, Baker's Wife.

Words that have a noble sound always contain beautiful images.

Marcel Pagnol

After many other literary and cinematographic successes, he refocused on writing in 1954, the death of his 4-year-old daughter prompting him to delve into his family history. This series, grouped under the title Childhood Memories, includes 4 of the author's best-known books: My Father's Glory, My Mother's Castle, Time of Secrets and Time of Loves.

As Marcel Pagnol passed away in 1974, this last chapter was only published posthumously and the president of the 1960 Cannes Film Festival did not attend the cinema release of Manon des Sources and Jean de Florette, the adaptations of the 2 parts of his last novel Water from the hills.

An inexhaustible source of inspiration


2 films which, as in all of Pagnol's work, feature inhabitants and settings of his native region, Provence.

His vacation home La Bastide Neuve (located at the top of the Bellons hamlet in Allauch municipality), the winding paths leading to the Garlaban massif and its Grosibou cave, but also Marseille and its lively café terraces or even La Buzine castle (at the heart of his novel My Mother's Castle and which he bought in 1941).

These places are characters in their own right, just like the truculent inhabitants with a lilting accent in his novels.

By bearing witness to a bygone era and way of life, Marcel Pagnol's work is now part of French cultural heritage. Prosper Mérimée, the first census taker of historical monuments, would surely have been flattered - almost a century apart - to pass on his seat at the Académie française to the author, as the intangible heritage he left us has contributed, just as much as our castles, to France's international reputation.

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