Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer at the movies: Jean de Florette

Back in January I opined my belief that The Descendants was the only Oscar-nominated film in recent 220px-Jean_de_Florettememory where land use was the driving force of the plot.  Blogger Ken Stahl also weighed in on The Descendants' land use theme. 

The post subsequently caused some conversation around the law school water cooler here.  Associate Dean Lee Dillion (also a former planning commissioner) mentioned to me that there was a film--not Oscar-nominated mind you--but a very famous French film where land use and water rights were also central to the plot.  The movie, Jean de Florette, even stars Gérard Depardieu as a young(er) man.

Rotten Tomatoes describes the plot as follows:

Co-adapted by director Claude Berri from a novel by Marcel Pagnol, this hugely successful French historical drama concerns a bizarre battle royale over a valuable natural spring in a remote French farming community. City dweller Jean Cadoret (Gérard Depardieu) assumes ownership of the spring when the original owner is accidentally killed by covetous farmer Cesar Soubeyran (Yves Montand). Soubeyran and his equally disreputable nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) pull every dirty trick in the book to force Cadoret off his land, but the novice farmer stands firm. Although the Soubeyrans appear to gain the upper hand, the audience is assured that they will eventually be foiled by the vengeful daughter of the spring's deceased owner -- thus setting the stage for the film's equally successful sequel, Manon of the Spring.

I just watched Jean de Florette last weekend, and I have to say, it put a human face on a lot of those early water rights cases.  For the land use prof seeking a little summer escape, I couldn't recommend Jean de Florette more highly.  If you really like it, there's also a sequel, Manon des sources.  See trailer here.

Stephen R. Miller


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Here's another foreign land use themed foreign film, The Casle, from Australia. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118826/

Posted by: Jeff | Jul 10, 2012 6:12:51 AM