Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dreaming of France -- Book and Movie


Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
Maybe we can all satisfy our yearnings for France, until we get there again.
This week, I finished reading a book set in France and watched a French movie.
I can't recommend the book too highly.
The book, A Chateau in Provence by Charles Wood, was such a strange title. The book truly had nothing to do with a chateau, but I thought the premise was fun. Some Americans vacationing in France get caught up in intrigue over a painting stolen by the Nazis and never returned. As a matter of fact, my own novel, The Summer of France, deals with some Nazi-stolen art as well, so, of course, I thought the idea was great. In spite of the good plot, the characters were not fleshed out enough so the reader could relate to them, and some basic editing would have helped the book. Also, when writing with a different language included, like French, it's always a good idea to check and re-check to get it right. Since I'm an English teacher, some basic punctuation issues, like misplaced commas, bugged me too.
Here's an excerpt from the book on page 63:
He tried the knob. he not only hadn't closed the door, he hadn't even locked it. He pushed it open and went to the side of the bed, knelt on one knee and reached his hand into the area between mattress and spring and felt the comforting bulk of his wallet. He felt relieved. 
The next thing Sam felt was an immense explosion in the back of his head followed by brilliant firewords behind his eyes. The room spun and tilted sidewise. His consciousness slipped away like a medieval ghost gliding out the door.

The book skipped back and forth from different characters points of view and the reader didn't get a chance to know any of them enough to really care about them.
This also counts toward the meme Books on France 2013 at Words and Peace.  I've vowed to read 12 books set in France and this is my second. It counts even if I'm not crazy about it, right?

We also watched a French movie Saturday evening -- Tous les Matins du Monde with Gerard DePardieu. The film was based on the life of the composer Sainte Colombe. It tells the story of the eccentric composer in mourning for the wife who dies young. He refuses to play at court
because he feels the music is more important than recognition from the king. The composer is left to raise two young daughters, and he teaches them both to play the cello as well. Then a young man, Marin Marais, comes to learn the cello from Sainte Colombe and one of the daughters falls for him. It's this young man who later becomes the DePardieu character.
Like many French movies, this one leaves a lot of questions. The opening defintely made me uncomfortable. Probably the first 15 minutes was a close-up shot on Depardieu as he began to tell his story. I just wanted to look away, but I had to keep looking to read the English translation.
The movie did hold my attention through the end even though I was very tired. And some things seems so French, like the daughter pulling her breast out of her blouse to offer herself to Marais. Or the line about the daughters growing up and that they now had to wear a pad between their legs because they bled monthly. I just thought that was something that wouldn't have been voiced in an American film. Maybe we're too squeamish, or maybe it's obvious.
The music throughout the film was lovely and full of emotion.
The movie took me to 17th century France for a short time, although the life seemed hard and fairly joyless. The composer took joy only in the moments that the ghost of his wife appeared to him, and (spoiler alert) the daughter dies young as well. The reviews of this on Amazon are breathless, so I suppose I should assume I didn't gather the true meaning.
Enjoyable, not a "must see."

7 comments:

Dianne said...

The movie sound wonderful Paulita ... I must search it out.

"All Things French"

Linda said...

I don't like Gerard so I don't think I'll look for that movie. I don't like a lot of French movies for that matter-most seem weird to me.

Sim said...

I like Gerard and I sure like your description of the movie. I checked it out (of course) and it is based on the book by Pascal Quignard. I didn't see an English translation at B&N so I don't think I'll be reading it. I will be on the look out for that movie though!
My Dreaming of France post isn't up yet :( I'll link up when it is.
Happy Monday.

Esme said...

I forget the name of the movie, but I recently watched at movie with Gerard that I quite liked.

Louise said...

I really don't like Gerard- I saw way too much of him (literally) in a movie back in the 80s- I remember being traumatised by him with his kit off for way too much of the time. I've been avoiding his movies since. I was shocked to discover his name in the opening credits of Life of Pi last weekend, but relieved to find that he had quite a minor part and was only on screen for a few minutes.

French Movies said...

I love french movies, they makes most erotic films in the world.

Hyacinth Marius said...

This is a funny story and an easy read. The characters are somewhat childlike. The happy ending gives hope and more fun to come.

Hyacinth
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