Le Temps Des Secrets Pagnol JlotherLe Temps Des Secrets Pagnol Jlother
©Le Temps Des Secrets Pagnol Jlother|JEAN-CLAUDE LOTHER

Provence and Pagnol on the bill of the film Le Temps des Secrets

Le Temps des Secrets is the adaptation of the novel published in 1960 by Marcel Pagnol, the third instalment of the novelist’s Souvenirs d’enfance. Filmed in Marseille, Allauch and Aubagne, the film stars Mélanie Doutey, Guillaume de Tonquédec and young Léo Campion. The director, Christophe Barratier shares his vision of this playful, sunny film.

The film has been adapted from a literary monument:

how did you appropriate it?

You could say I was a good customer. My grandmother was an actress and her walls were covered with photos of Raimu and Fernandel, and she played in Marius, Topaze… I’ve always heard people talking about Pagnol. When Marius was shown on the television, it was almost like a “curfew” at home. Pagnol’ s work always appeared quite naturally to me. I feel a sort of complicity and intimacy with the characters.

The movie focuses on Marcel who leaves primary school and enters the “big league”, discovering first love and also secrets hidden by his parents. For the film adaptation, I had to work on reorganising scenes and I sometimes had to take things from Pagnol’s other books to add to the dialogues and I’ve made certain moments of the film more spectacular such as when they hunt the snake in the cave.

Pagnol’s books are timeless:

why do you think he still has such an important place in the collective imagination?

Pagnol says very profound things on details; he actually used to say “The  details, yes, they’re true. For the rest, I sometimes had to make it up!”. Pagnol places himself so much at our level that his stories continue to resonate… And that’s good because it makes people continue to tell the stories. The same thing goes for children. When we were filming, I was impressed by the way they shared the feelings, emotions and also the games of their characters in their 1905 world.

You filmed in Provence, in Allauch and Aubagne for example:

what is your relationship with this South of France?

I love the south but I didn’t know Marseille and the surrounding area well. We got a warm welcome. After two weeks of filming, I felt I belonged here. And we were also very lucky to have an almost totally local cast, which was really good.

I decided to treat the landscapes and in particular the Colline de l’Étoile as if they were characters in the film. We composed with the southern light and often waited until the end of the day when the low rays of the sun cast long shadows. One of the scenes in the film is a rather long dinner and I wanted to film the scene with the sublime pink sky at the end of the day: we had to adapt and film it over three evenings because the moment and the colours were fleeting. What is more unusual is that we recreated a few of the “legends” for the film such as the funicular which used to go up to Notre-Dame de la Garde or the transporter bridge in Marseille harbour.

Pagnol’s soul lives on in Provence

Places to discover

●        La Treille: this used to be a village and is now a quarter of Marseille and a place that inspired Pagnol. Follow the itinerary on the spot by yourself or with a guide

●        The house where Marcel Pagnol was born in Aubagne: a 130m2 venue dedicated to the writer with schoolbooks and family photos

●        The Château de la Buzine is hosting an exhibition on Pagnol produced by his grandson, Nicolas Pagnol