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Regain, France, 1937

With the name of Chez Panisse inspired by a character from Marcel Pagnol’s César (1938) it’s only fitting that we begin this series with Pagnol’s enchanting paean to agrarian France. After years of migration to the big cities, a remote village nestled on a hilltop is down to its last few inhabitants, including Pantrule (Gabriel Gabrio), a hulking but gentle hermit who longs to revive the town. When he encounters Arsule (Orane Demazis), a woman on the run looking to start over herself, the pair begin tilling the earth to grow wheat and hopefully revive a whole way of life. Pagnol suffuses every shot of their labor and the land with tenderness and care in a film about the beauty and dignity of the simple things.

DCP, b&w, in French with English subtitles, 127 min. Director: Marcel Pagnol. Screenwriter: Jean Giono, Marcel Pagnol. With: Fernandel, Orane Demazis, Gabriel Gabrio.

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