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MY FATHER’S GLORY

From the Nov. 1, 1991, Deseret News

MY FATHER'S GLORY — Philippe Caubere, Nathalie Roussel, Julien Ciamaca; in French, with English subtitles; rated G.

A delightful, uplifting film that revels in life and the magic of modern civilization at the turn of the century, "My Father's Glory" is a must-see for every fan of foreign cinema. It is also a wonderful addition to the ever-growing list of contemporary European movies families can enjoy together — along with "Cinema Paradiso," "Jean de Florette" and "Babette's Feast," among others.

Based on the memoirs of French author Marcel Pagnol, on whose work "Jean de Florette" and "Manon of the Spring" were based, "My Father's Glory" is the story of young Marcel being raised in several French cities, a child prodigy who begins reading at age 2.

In the first half of the film we see him growing up, watching his father, a schoolteacher addicted to education, and his mother, who worries that if young Marcel begins his education too early "his brain will burst."

We see his parents, siblings and his aunt — and eventually his uncle — going about life in exquisite detail, within the framework of a painstaking re-creation of the early 1900s.

And it is mesmerizing.

But the best is yet to come, as the family takes a summer vacation in the country, spending three months with fewer conveniences than are offered by the city but thoroughly enjoying country life.

Marcel in particular is bitten by the nature bug — so much so that he doesn't want to leave. He'd rather become a hermit and live in a cave than have to go back to the city.

Though there is a strong narrative thread through all this, it's more a collection of perceptive vignettes than a plot-driven story. And from the first frame to the last it is utterly enchanting.

The characters are vivid, the evocation of place and time is very touching and the human truths expressed are universal.

Perhaps the biggest surprise comes in the credits. Anyone familiar with Yves Robert's work — particularly "The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe," "Pardon Mon Affaire" and their sequels — would probably never guess he could direct and co-author such an exquisite work.

"My Father's Glory" is excellent in every way, deserving of a wider audience than foreign films normally receive. It is, of course, in French with English subtitles.

And if, when its over, you wish it would go on — you get your wish. A sequel, "My Mother's Castle," filmed at the same time, opens at the Tower next week.

"My Father's Glory" is rated G, a rarity in itself these days — especially for a live-action film. But it should be noted that there are a couple of mild vulgarities, as well as scenes that show a breast-feeding infant and nude children.