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My Mother’s Castle (1990)

My Mother’s Castle (1990)

Movie Review

What a truly sweet and delightful film this is! It transports one back to a much simpler, innocent time where family, friendship, honor and the beauty of nature were almost universally recognized as the treasures they really are.

My Mother’s Castle is adapted from Marcel Pagnol’s memoirs of his childhood in the South of France in the early 20th century. Life’s smaller joys as well as its larger ones are seen through the magical lens of childhood.



Marcel’s family (school teacher dad Joseph, mother Augustine, younger brother Paul and infant sister) live in Marseille but the hills of Provence hold a powerful spell over them. The family spends their vacations and holidays there where they own a small house, but Marcel in particular would love to spend even more time there and rarely thinks of much else.

The movie works its way into the viewer’s heart. We care about the characters because they care about one another. In addition to the Pagnol family, there’s Uncle Jules who in one scene opens a huge chocolate Easter egg to release a pair of ivory white doves. There’s Lili, a local boy who is also Marcel’s best friend and also Isabelle, the quirky daughter of bohemian parents on whom Marcel develops his first crush after “saving” her from spiders. Their relationship is both sweet and amusing in its childhood innocence. But his younger brother and best friend who spy on them are not amused and don’t hesitate to report back to the adults how their games invariably consist of Isabelle as a queen and Marcel as a knight, slave,  dog on all fours, etc.

His mother, Augustine, who also would like to spend more time in the countryside devises a means by which the family can spend every weekend in Provence. Of course the journey entails public transportation, followed by a five mile trek on foot around several gated estates. That is until they meet Bouzigue, a former student of Joseph Pagnol who is now a canal spiker on those same estates. He offers them a copy of the key that will allow them to cut across the private estates and shorten their walk to just one mile. At first the very proper Mr. Pagnol refuses, but finally relents under Bouzigue and Augustine’s insistence.

The subsequent weekend treks are fraught with some apprehension of being caught by the owners; especially the last estate guarded by a particularly mean, drunken watchman and his mastiff. Eventually, Augustine’s worst fear is made real when the drunk watchman catches the family trespassing the estate and makes a report. Mr. Pagnol is convinced that he will lose his teaching post at his very proper school as a result.

I shan’t say more for those who have yet to experience this exquisitely charming and idyllic film of a beautiful bygone era. But this one is a true gem I honestly believe you will enjoy.


To order My Mother’s castle from Amazon click here.

To order from the UK click here.

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