Almost a Love Story: Raimu and Marcel Pagnol

The pain of thwarted young love serves as the narrative center of Marcel Pagnol’s The Marseille Trilogy, but in many ways it is the character of César—a father figure who bears witness to the doomed romance between his son, Marius, and a young shopkeeper named Fanny—who infuses this bittersweet three-part drama with its soul. Brusque yet big-hearted, César guides the story through its twists and turns with a boundless sense of compassion that would become a trademark of Raimu, the actor who originated the role on both stage and screen. This great music-hall veteran had honed his craft over the course of a decades-long career in Paris’s theater scene before he became a muse and close friend of Pagnol, who found in his star both the comedic talent and the profound pathos to anchor this richly humanist portrait of daily life in his native Provence. In the below clip from a supplement on our newly released box-set edition of The Marseille Trilogy, Pagnol’s grandson Nicolas discusses the deep mutual affection between these two artists, whose landmark collaborations remain among the most influential works of early French cinema.

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