On the occasion of the theatrical release of the film “Le Temps des Secrets” thirty years after the two films by Yves Robert, we asked the director Christophe Barratier a few questions.
The Time of Secrets: Pagnol returns to the cinema
Three decades after the release of The glory of my father and My Mother’s Castle by Yves Robert, Pagnol’s childhood memories return to the cinema in The Time of Secrets. This time directed by Christophe Barratier (The chorists), this is the third part of the work of the Marseille author.
We find Marcel in the hills he loves so much, during the summer holidays, just before entering high school. He finds for the occasion his dear friend Lili and will meet the mysterious isabella, his first love. A summer placed under the sign of freedom, but also that of secrets.
The cast is made up of Léo Campion (Marcel), Guillaume de Tonquédec (Joseph), Mélanie Doutey (Augustine), François-Xavier Demaison (Uncle Jules).
Christophe Barratier talks to us about adaptation
On the occasion of the film’s theatrical release on March 23, 2022we met Christophe Barratier to lift the veil on the underside of this adaptation.
How did Marcel Pagnol come into your life?
I have always heard of Pagnol because I had a theater actress grandmother who raised me from the age of 3 to 8 years old. The walls of her house were studded with theatrical photos and she had a great affection for Pagnol’s plays, and as soon as one of his films was shown on television, you had to watch it. I also remember that she read Memories of Childhood to me at night to put me to sleep. He has always been part of my life.
And as I’m quite obsessive, I then wanted to discover all his films. I became familiar with his language, his themes, and his way of making things of everyday life profound. That’s Pagnol, it’s always a story of details, which reveal a lot of life.
Why adapt The Time of Secretsthird volume of Pagnol’s childhood memories, and not start from the beginning with The glory of my father?
Yves Robert’s films are so anchored in the collective memory, and essential, that they do not need to be redone. They are not that old. And then the Time of Secrets period interested me. This is the age when Marcel realizes that he is not the only one to have secrets, and discovers that his parents do too. It is the discovery of the end of innocence, we realize that childhood becomes a lost paradise.
Unlike Yves Robert, you don’t use the voiceover…
I didn’t like the idea of the old writer telling his story, I found it a bit dated. I put voice-overs in my films, and I like that, but I wanted something else for “Le Temps des Secrets”. To evoke that it is a memory, I had the idea of staging adult Pagnol at the beginning, and at the end. Between the two, I wanted it to happen in the present.
And then that posed another problem because the story he tells in this book is not as extensive as in “My Father’s Glory” and “My Mother’s Castle”. There is no common thread. I had to build a whole story around it, so it was complicated to integrate the voiceover.
The character of Augustine, in particular, is much more fleshed out than in the book
If I wanted everyone to have secrets, I had to find something for Augustine. She had raised three beautiful children, she was sick, and I think she was perhaps aware of the precariousness of her life. So she had to find something of her own, get involved in a cause.
I had read that Marcel’s aunt, Fifi, dealt with women’s rights, which was something in its infancy at the time, and that she was a subscriber to the newspaper called “La Fronde”. I then embroidered a story around it. Augustine gets thicker with that.
How do you build a universe without betraying that of Pagnol?
Even if not everything is by Pagnol, everything seems to be. And that’s not pretense. I know his music and his universe so much that I know what sounds right.
You have chosen the same Bastide Neuve as Yves Robert. Why this choice?
The real Bastide Neuve is in Marseille, the surrounding decor has changed a lot. So I had to start looking for a place that corresponds to Marcel Pagnol’s childhood.