The history of films set in Provence, in the south of France including Marseille movies, the Lumiere Brothers, Marcel Pagnol and more.

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Provence Movies

My Mother’s Castle

Marseille Today, Between Nostalgia and Cliches

in Provence Movies

Whether you stay or leave Marseille (which is my case), the city’s heritage remains indelible, like the memories of a happy childhood spent in the south of France. It is therefore not surprising that many filmmakers and writers have created works recounting their childhood in Marseille and Provence. The filmmaker Yves Robert adapted Marcel Pagnol’s childhood trilogy (La Gloire de […]

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Borsalino & Co

Marseille’s Crime Connection: A French Chicago

in Provence Movies

It’s in the early ’70s that thrillers directly or indirectly associated with Marseille started to emerge, slowly revealing the city’s hidden face to the world.  Only a few works had brushed with this theme before including Maurice Tourneur’s Justin de Marseille which showed two gangs squaring off on the Canebiere avenue and on the port. Other examples included Gilles Grangier’s L’inspecteur […]

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Marius and Jeannette

Social Realism in Marseille

in Provence Movies

If Marseille had mostly inspired filmmakers looking for Mediterranean exoticism, the second half of the twentieth century saw the emergence of a social-conscious cinema capturing the essence of the city, rather than its appearance. A social cultural melting-pot composed of contrasted neighborhoods, the southern city and its port became a source of social experiment for the filmmaker René Allio. Rather […]

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La Marseillaise

Marseille As a Setting for Historical Movies

in Provence Movies

If the most emblematic historical figure associated to the city is undoubtedly Edmond Dantes, the fictionalized hero of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo which was the subject of many film adaptations, the historical-cultural heritage of the city has been showcased in a wide variety of productions featuring the port as the vibrant heart of the city. Jean […]

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Manon of the Spring

Marcel Pagnol’s Post-War Movies

in Provence Movies

An adaptation of an Emile Zola novel, Nais was the first film that Marcel Pagnol made after the end of the war in 1946. The setting was transposed in the Estaque port in Marseille and it starred  Jacqueline Bouvier (now Misses Pagnol ), the popular comedy actor Fernandel (in the role of the hunchback), Henri Poupon and Raymond Pellegrin. Also, […]

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The Baker's Wife

Marcel Pagnol’s Studios and the French Hollywood

in Provence Movies

In 1937, hoping to create a French Holywood, Marcel Pagnol expanded his company by installing studios, distribution and technical departments in the St. Giniez neighborhood near the Avenue du Prado. Thanks to his new production facility, he was now able to fully fulfill his vision, including building an entire Provençal village on the hills for Regain, which ruins still stand […]

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Marius (The Marseille Trilogy)

Marcel Pagnol’s Movies

in Provence Movies

A writer, film producer/director/screenwriter and entrepreneur, Marcel Pagnol was elected to the French Academy in March  1947 – if you’re not familiar with this institution, it is the authority about French language. But it is undoubtedly his contribution to French cinema that will be remembered the most, making him a pioneer of Provence and Marseille-centric filmmaking. THE MARSEILLE TRILOGY Already […]

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Honoré de Marseille

The History of Marseille Movie Studios

in Provence Movies

While the Lumière brothers and Marcel Pagnol have left an indelible mark on the Marseille movie industry, other studios followed without the same success. PHOCEA-FILM The silent film production company Phocéa-Film was created in 1916, with the support from local personalities and theater owners. Phocéa-Film’s first production was the 10-episode miniseries La mort du sous-marin, which was distributed by Gaumont. […]

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Louis Feuillade’s Barrabas

Marseille On Screen: Early Days

in Provence Movies

Marseille started its onscreen career discreetly through newsy footage documenting the city’s life. Thanks to the Geographical Society of Marseille showcasing some of these shorts at the Eden theater, local spectators were able to learn more about their city’s behind the scenes, from olive oil manufacturing to preparing the fish market, or working on the docks. Marseille made its scripted […]

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The Beginnings of Cinema in Marseille

The Beginnings of Cinema in Marseille

in Provence Movies

On June 29th, 1895, the Edison Kinetoscope was presented at the Noailles brewery. Against all odds, the event went unnoticed as the locals didn’t seem to be interested in looking through this strange binocular – even for the small fee of 25 cents. Paradoxically less than a year later, they would however applaud a series of short films by film pioneer […]

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