Follow TV Tropes


Film / Manon des Sources

Go To
Think Game of Thrones, but with farming in Southern France instead of fantasy kingdoms.
"Remember, it's much easier to push something downhill than uphill, so push him in the direction where he'll fall."
César Soubeyran

Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources (Manon of the Spring) is a 1986 French movie duology concerning a city man and his family after they inherit a plot of land rich in resources in Provence (Southern France). They are adaptations of Marcel Pagnol's novels of the same name.

The first movie, Jean de Florette, involves the plotting of the farmer Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) and his cunning uncle César (Yves Montand) he calls "Le Papet", as they work to subtly drive a young city man named Jean (Gérard Depardieu) off the plot of land he has inherited from his mother, Florette.

The second movie, Manon des Sources, takes place 10 years later and involves Jean's daughter, Manon (Emmanuelle Béart), as she solves the mystery of what happened to her father and deals justice to the village that condemned him.

An earlier film, also called Manon des Sources, was made in 1953, but due to writer/director Pagnol's dissatisfaction over the cutting of his intended four hour film led to the story being rewritten as a novel with the addition of a prequel, called Jean de Florette. The two volumes are known together as L'Eau des collines (The Water of the Hills). From these two books, the two films were eventually made.

Both films were critically acclaimed, and were nominated for and won numerous awards, including 10 BAFTAs. The second film significantly boosted the career of Emmanuelle Béart.

Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: In Manon of the Spring, Manon thinks this of Ugolin. The effect is only intensified once she finds out he helped plot her father's death.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Ugolin for Manon, in Manon of the Spring. She is horrified.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: By the end of Jean de Florette, Ugolin and César take control of the late Jean's land.
  • Bad Samaritan: Ugolin in Jean de Florette. Under the Papet's guidance, he feeds Jean misinformation, and provides him enough help to keep their friendship going, but not enough to actually succeed.
  • Becoming the Mask: After some time acting friendy towards Jean Cadoret, Ugolin confesses that he has actually come to see him as a friend. Not enough, unfortunately, to overcome his own greed and the Papet's influence.
  • Big Bad: César Soubeyran, The Papet, pretty much the boss of the village and the responsible of Jean's misfortune to satisfy his ambition.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Soubeyrans, according to the Papet. The marriage of cousins to cousins saved the family wealth, but resulted in suicides and madness.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Twice, after a fashion. As Manon is coming out of the church after her wedding, The Papet is going to the cemetery to visit Ugolin's grave. Later Manon gives birth and César dies shortly after.
  • Bystander Syndrome: "Mind your own business and don't mess with the Soubeyran" is the villagers attitude.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In this case, literally a gunman. The man sleeping inside the house in Jean de Florette comes forward to denounce Ugolin and the Papet in Manon des Sources.
  • Confessional: Used and referred to several times in Manon of the Spring, as the village is Catholic. The Papet suspects this is how the priest knows what he and Ugolin did — the villagers got carried away and started confessing other people's sins.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster of "Jean de Florette" as depicted above, may suggest an encounter between the Papet and the eponymous character. The two of them never interact in person. This becomes a huge Plot Point later, as Cesar aknowledges in his dying letter, that, had he actually met the man he destroyed, he might have had a chance to recognise his son.
  • Death by Despair: The Papet loses the will to live once he finds out the truth about Jean and Florette, and that he indirectly killed the heir he wanted so badly.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Ugolin and the Papet, each of whom wills his property to Manon before they die, to atone for what they put her and her family through.
  • Dramatic Irony: The Papet would stop at nothing to see his nephew Ugolin become rich and father many children, so that his family would not die with them. He kills, sabotages, lies and leads a man to his death for this. If only he knew that the man who died before his actions was the heir he wanted and married to boot, who could have struck rich if he did not sabotage the water spring on his property.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: For both villains.
    • The Papet though the circumstances for this were not what he first thought.
    • Ugolin, but considering he was a Stalker with a Crush it is not a bad thing.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ugolin kills himself when he realizes Manon hates him. The Papet asks some men to help cut him down and to keep it secret, so Ugolin can have a proper burial.
  • Fish out of Water: Jean in Jean de Florette. The movie centers on him, an ex-tax collector from the city, trying to adapt to country farming life. He believes he can learn and succeed at anything with enough preparation. He can't, though sabotage was involved, so he might have if he had been left alone.
  • For Want Of A Nail: The plots of the movies wouldn't have happened if César had gotten the letter from Florette telling him she was carrying his child.
  • French Jerk: The Papet accidentally kills early in Jean de Florette (after he insulted Cesar's family honor). He seems to be a mix of a stereotypical American Redneck (complete with wanting to be buried with his gun) and a stereotypical French Jerk (of the "I fart in your general direction" type).
  • From Bad to Worse: Jean's attempts to have a successful farm. It ends with him at the edge of sanity, then becoming impatient during a dangerous activity and getting himself killed.
  • Gossipy Hens: The village men, who gather around and drink while discussing farming. They are also crucial to the downfall of Jean, as César convinces them to not talk with Jean, thus not making him aware of the water spring buried on his land.
  • Heart in the Wrong Place: Ugolin becomes a Stalker with a Crush for Manon, and stitches a discarded hair ribbon directly to his skin, supposedly over his heart but actually on the left side of his chest. Not that the exact position really matters, as all it gives him is a revolting infection.
  • Heel Realization: Twice. In both cases they knew that they were being selfish/evil, but did not realize to what extent. First, the villagers finding out that the man they refused to help was not a stranger, but Florette's son. Second, César finding out that the man he drove insane and eventually caused to die was his son, and Manon his granddaughter. He does not takes this well.
  • Hopeless Suitor: See Triang Relations.
  • I Never Got Any Letters: The Papet never received a crucial letter.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In the end, Ugolin for Manon.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Daniel Auteuil (Ugolin) and Emmanuelle Béart (Manon) previously starred together in L'Amour en douce (Love on the Quiet) (1985).
  • Identical Grandson: Manon is the spitting image of Florette at the same age.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Manon.
  • It's Probably Nothing: The Papet and Ugolin fall for this not once but twice: when blocking the source ("it's the rats!") and when unblocking it ("probably a hare that got caught by a hawk")
  • Justice Will Prevail: Manon's revenge.
  • Kissing Cousins: In Jean de Florette, The Papet explains to Ugolin that the family line was ruined because of cousins marrying cousins. In Manon of the Spring the woman that Ugolin wants to marry, with his uncle's support, turns out to be Ugolin's first cousin once removed.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • The villagers invoke this trope, believing that their water drying up is a divine punishment for their complicity by inaction in Jean's death. It's actually due to Manon stopping up the source. Once they confess their guilt and denounce The Papet and Ugolin, she unblocks it but lets them believe it's due to divine intervention.
    • The Soubeyrans pay the heavy price of their crimes: Ugolin falls in love with the girl who will never want him and the Papet sees his family name die with him, which he did everything in the novel to prevent.
  • Love Before First Sight: Bernard for the mysterious goat-herder that almost no one has seen.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Ugolin for Manon. So crazy that he sews a ribbon of hers he found in the hills to his chest.
  • Manchild: Ugolin looks loke he wouldn't be able to lace his shoes if Papet wasn't around to tell him.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Cesar does not care what gets in his way when it comes to taking the farm to grow the carnations. He goes from outright killing a person in person to having Ugolin pretend to befriend Jean only to secretly sabotage his attempts at making an honest living which ends up getting Jean killed as he becomes desperate and he doesn't even bat an eye once it's all over until Ugolin kills himself and it is revealed Jean was his son.
  • Meaningful Name: César is named for, well, Caesar. Fitting as he is the patriarch of both the Soubeyran family and Les Bastides Blanches in general.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Rather heartbreakingly in Manon of the Spring.
    • Ugolin is wracked with guilt , spending nights walking in the property and speaking to Jean as if he could hear him and forgive him. He ends up committing suicide when his guilt and unrequited feelings get too much to bear.
    • Much of the Papet's motivation for the plot against Jean was spite, as he's the son of the woman who left him while he was fighting in the war. He only realizes the true extent of his despicable actions when Delphine tells him that Jean is his child, too — the letter Florette sent him on this topic was lost in the war.
  • My Greatest Failure: The Papet involving Florette.
  • Nature Spirit: Manon in Manon of the Spring, always wandering through the hills with her herd of goats.
  • Near-Rape Experience: Ugolin tells Manon that he was "tempted to commit a crime" when he saw her bathing. For all the creepiness of his obsession with her, this particular idea, fortunately, never goes further than his thoughts and he never touches Manon without her permission (which is to say, never at all).
  • Not So Stoic: As a child, Manon is portrayed as a silent observer of everything that goes on between her family and Ugolin. But as soon as she sees Ugolin and César unblock the spring, she runs away screaming and eventually looks upon the land her father lost to those two tricksters, with tears in her eyes.
  • Nude Nature Dance: In tandem with the Outdoor Bath Peeping. Manon's dance is a rare example of this trope being played non-cheesily.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: In Manon of the Spring, a particularly creepy example occurs when Ugolin stumbles upon and watches Manon, bathing naked.
    • Bonus Squick in the books, as Ugolin is pushing thirty and Manon is fifteen.
  • Parental Substitute: Ugolin and the Papet are undoubtedly very close, and the Papet mentors his nephew very like a father would. (Though he is quick to impose his vision.)
  • The Patriarch: The Papet, who engineers the plot of Jean de Florette to the advantage of his nephew Ugolin and himself by extension.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A protracted example. The Papet's actions indirectly kill Jean, which he has no problem with however, he realizes much, much too late that he's killed his own son.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: On the one hand, Ugolin bats as much an eye as Cesar does when he gets the farm, but at the same time he seems easily manipulated by Cesar and doesn't want anyone to get hurt, he just wanted to grow carnations. He even was good at appearing to be a good friend to Jean and when Jean dies he is wracked with guilt and cries, though this doesn't last long.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: When the seemingly saving rain of a coming storm passes by without shearing a single drop on his land, Jean goes in a raging tirade, accusing the heavens of his hunch and his present misery and ending by "There is no-one up there!"
  • Red Baron: César Soubeyran is mostly referred to as "le Papet", which means "the Patriarch".
  • Satellite Love Interest: The main thing we know about Bernard is that he knows about Rocks. His courting with Manon is mainly just flirty banter. In contrast, Ugolin has tremendous depth, but this doesn't make him any more desirable.
  • Scenery Porn: The movie was filmed in Provence, France, and has since brought many tourists to the region. Filming was planned to last long enough that the scenery would change over the course of the film as the seasons passed.
  • Scenery Gorn: Jean's farm in the first film when he starts to run out of water, especially his dying rabbits.
  • Secret-Keeper: Manon, the villagers, the Papet and Ugolin, and the old blind woman.
  • The Simple Life is Simple: Averted harshly, as stated on the trope page. City Mouse Jean is the butt of jokes because of how bad he is at farming, but since the neighbors want his land, they also do nothing to help him get better at it and never tell him about the spring that could save his farm.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Jean and his wife; Manon and Bernard, over Ugolin who disgusts her.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Ugolin, concerning Manon.
  • This Means War!: In Jean de Florette, this is the Papet's response to another farmer disgracing the family name.
  • Tsundere: The Papet and Delphine's descriptions of Florette make her sound like a rather complicated example of this trope by turns, coquettish and cold, and she never told the Papet that she loved him, though Delphine is firmly of the opinion that she did.
  • Twist Ending: Jean was the Papet's son by Florette, who really did love him the whole time. Manon is his granddaughter
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: The general attitude towards Manon after she grows up. Jean wasn't bad looking, but because he was a hunchback, the villagers considered him ugly.
  • Villain Protagonist: Both Ugolin and the Papet have despicable motivations — greed and petty vengeance, respectively. And although the deaths they cause are accidental, both times they show little remorse and quickly jump on how to take advantage of the situation.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Papet's actions all stem from the fact that he loves his nephew and wants him to be successful (though he is motivated by perpetuating his name almost as much, if not more). He just goes way, way too far to make that happen.
  • Wham Line: "Alive, yes... but a hunchback."
  • Wild Child: Manon by the time of Manon of the Spring gives this impression to the village people. However she still has the good education her father gave her, and spends much of her time reading.
  • You Killed My Father: Manon toward the Papet and Ugolin.
  • Your Son All Along: In the first film, the Villain Protagonist wants the titular Jean to sell him his land, and plays many tricks on him to pursuade him to do so. It doesn't help that Jean is the son of his childhood sweetheart Florette, who left him and married another man while he was away at war. In the end, he successfully drives Jean to his death and takes the land. In the second film Jean's daughter, Manon, takes revenge for her father's death. It is only at the end of this film that the main character discovers that, contrary to what he thought, Jean was not Florette's son by her husband, but his own son, and that he has unwittingly caused the death of his only child and been in conflict with his granddaughter!

Alternative Title(s): Jean De Florette