Blu-ray, DVD Release: The Marseille Trilogy by Marcel Pagnol

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: June 27, 2017
Price: DVD $50.43, Blu-ray $58.19
Studio: Criterion

In the 1930s, Marcel Pagnol, a leading light of the Paris theater, set out for new horizons as a filmmaker in his native Provence.

His early masterpieces Marius, Fanny, and César mix theatrical stagecraft with realistic location photography to create an epic love story from the fabric of everyday life. Gruff, sentimental César (music-hall star Raimu) owns a waterfront bar in the old port of Marseille, where his son, Marius (Pierre Fresnay), wipes down tables and dreams of a life at sea. The prosperous, middle-aged sailmaker Panisse (Fernand Charpin), wanting to wed Marius’s sweetheart, Fanny (Orane Demazis), sets up a generation-spanning romantic triangle, the story of which unfolds in a series of fateful twists in the films of The Marseille Trilogy, which first earned Pagnol his place in cinema history.

Marcel Pagnol’s 1931 Marius

If Pagnol is not the greatest auteur of the sound film, critic André Bazin wrote, he is in any case something akin to its genius.

Here’s a breakdown of the three comedy-drama films, followed by a look at what Criterion’s Blu-ray and DVD editions of the trilogy contains.

Marius (1931)
Adapting his hit play Marius for the screen two years after its stage premiere, Marcel Pagnol turned his inimitable creative energies to the new medium of sound cinema in a felicitous collaboration with the Hungarian-born director Alexander Korda.

Fanny (1932)
The delicate romanticism of The Marseille Trilogy’s opening encounters harsh reality in this installment, which picks up moments after Marius has left his would-be wife, Fanny, for a sailor’s existence.

César (1936)
In the final chapter of The Marseille Trilogy, Marcel Pagnol returns his compassionate gaze to his weathered characters as they discover the possibility of reconciliation and the durability of love.

-New 4K digital restorations of all three films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
-New introduction by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier
-New interview with Nicolas Pagnol, writer-director Marcel Pagnol s grandson
-Segments of Marcel Pagnol: Morceaux de choisis, a 1973 documentary series on Pagnol’s life and work
-Short documentary on the Marseille harbor by Pagnol
-Archival interviews with actors Orane Demazis, Pierre Fresnay, and Robert Vattier
-Pagnol’s Poetic Realism, a new video essay by scholar Brett Bowles
-French television clip about the restoration of the trilogy
-Theatrical rerelease trailer
-New English subtitle translations
-An essay by film critic Michael Atkinson and excerpts from Pagnol’s memoirs

Buy or Rent The Marseille Trilogy

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.