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The Eye of INA: Marcel Pagnol, pioneer of talkies


The 7th art was very important in the life of the great Provençal writer. His declaration of love for the cinema is at the heart of a Big plan made in 1960 by Pierre Cardinal that Madelen invites you to (re)discover.

At the end of the 1950s, an article on his childhood memories in a women’s magazine having earned him a flood of compliments, Marcel Pagnol decided to transform these ten pages into three volumes, The glory of my father, My mother’s castle and The time of secrets. The sale of more than a million copies of the first edition of this trilogy does not fail to surprise him. He never imagined that this story could reach such a wide audience.

One day, a journalist asks him if he intends to make a film adaptation. The answer is immediate and negative. He doesn’t believe it. Yves Robert in 1990 with The glory of my father and My mother’s castleas well as Christophe Barratier today with The time of secrets fortunately filled this gap.

The 7th art was nevertheless very important in the life of Pagnol. He was even one of the pioneers. His declaration of love for the cinema is at the heart of a Big plan made in 1960 by Pierre Cardinal that Madelen invites you to discover.

He thus recounts that evening in 1929, when, in London, he attended a screening of Broadway Melody, the first all-sound American musical feature film, directed by Harry Beaumont. Back in Paris, he wrote an article in a daily newspaper in which he confessed his enthusiasm for this technology which “will burst the three walls of the stage“. These few lines published on May 17, 1930 earned him a backlash that he had not imagined: the small world of the theater was indignant. We ask him if he has gone mad, we wonder about comments that some attribute to “some excess nocturnal libations“. He was even advised to leave a Society of Authors with which, taking a stand, he obviously had nothing more to do.
These comments, which can make people smile today, show how much the beginnings of cinema, whether silent or talking, triggered fury and concern among authors for whom the stage was then the only resource. Pagnol ignored their criticisms. He didn’t even answer it. He had plenty of other things to do!

From the opening of the Pathé studios in Joinville, he began negotiations which ended with the filming, in 1931, of an adaptation of marius, directed by Alexander Korda. With a public success that few professionals predicted, Pagnol then decided to go much further. His ambition is to one day move into production and directing.

An extraordinary exhibition at the “cmy mother’s haste»

It was for this purpose that in 1934, he bought a 24-hectare estate, in the heart of the hills overlooking the village of La Treille, dear to his heart. In 1941, he bought the Château de la Buzine “ the dreadful domain, that of my mother’s fear! “, of which he aims to make a”City of Cinema“. The war and the German occupation will shatter this dream. In 1973, Pagnol sold the whole thing to a promoter who had villas built on the land. The main building, bought by the city of Marseille, has, fortunately, been preserved.

Until June 5, a new exhibition is presented there: Oh Marcel! The Film Factory. A tribute to a Magic lamp » of which Pagnol said: «It rekindles extinguished geniuses and restores to our tenderness the smile of lost friends“.

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