Marcel Pagnol finds his great friend Lili des Bellons in “Le Château de ma mère”, the sequel to “La Gloire de mon père” still directed by Yves Robert. But do you know the real story of Lili?
My mother’s castle: back to the hills
After tasting the freedom of the hills of Provence in The glory of my father, the young Marcel Pagnol is back at the Bastide Neuve in My mother’s castle. Still directed by Yves Robert, the film is adapted from second part childhood memories of Pagnol, and also encroaches on the third (The time of secrets). Indeed, during his walks in the hills, he meets Isabelle, his first love. A meeting that his friend Lili des Bellons does not see very well.
The film ends with a painful epilogue, in which we learn that his great friend Lili died in action during the First World War. On tufts of cold plants whose names he didn’t know.
The real story of Lili des Bellons
Lili des Bellons was actually called David Magnan (or more exactly Baptiste Joseph David Magnan). His nickname came from the fact that, when he was little, he couldn’t pronounce his first name correctly and people understood “Lili”. He lived with his parents north of the village of La Treille, at a place called Les Bellons, not far from the Bastide Neuve des Pagnol.
It was his father, François Magnan (seen in the films of Yves Robert, played by Pierre Maguelon), who helped Marcel’s parents to set up their vacation spot, with his cart.
In his recollections, Pagnol describes Lili des Bellons like this:
He was a small peasant. He was dark, with a thin Provencal face, black eyes, and long girlish lashes. He was wearing, under an old gray woolen waistcoat, a brown, long-sleeved shirt that he had rolled up above his elbows, short breeches, and rope sneakers like mine, but he had no socks.
Born April 18, 1898 in Allauch, he was Marcel’s vacation friend, the one who taught him the secrets of the hills. He was three years younger than the latter and the same age as Paul Pagnol.
During World War I, David Magnan joined the 43rd Colonial Infantry Regiment. He died in combat on July 23, 1918 near the village of Vrigny in Champagne-Ardenne, during the “Friedensturm” operation. He was twenty years old.
Lili des Bellons rests in the cemetery of La Treille, not far from the tomb of Marcel Pagnol. Here is his tombstone:
We will find Lili in The Time of Secrets by Christophe Barratier on March 23, 2022.