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JULY 1– 4
Of all the places where people supposedly live the simple life, none appeals more to Anglo-American sensibilities than Provence. The region represents both the provincial and the sophisticated, a land of drowsy days and “slow food.” No wonder California celebrity chef Alice Waters was in town last week to introduce a screening of Marius, the first film adapted from a play by Marcel Pagnol, the bard of ’30s Provence: She named two restaurants, Chez Panisse and Café Fanny, after characters in the warm, wistful films of his Fanny Trilogy. Food, the land, and women—sometimes conflated in ways that now seem unpleasant—are all themes of Pagnol’s work, which has proved a renewable resource for French filmmakers: Such ’80s and ’90s hits as Jean de Florette and My Mother’s Castle were adapted from the movies and memoirs of Pagnol, who died in 1974. A dramatist who adapted quickly to the talkies, Pagnol allowed others to direct the first two movies based on his plays, Marius and 1932’s Fanny (pictured; at 2 p.m. Friday, July 1, and Saturday, July 2). But by the time of 1936’s César (at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3; at 2 p.m Monday, July 4), Pagnol was writing directly for the screen and directing his scripts himself. In Fanny, the pregnant title character marries sailmaker and gourmand Panisse while her lover, Marius, is at sea; in the sequel, César, Fanny’s son, Cesariot, now a young man, learns the identity of his father and finally meets him. The films screen beginning Thursday, July 1, and run through Monday, July 4 (see Showtimes for a full schedule), at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th Street and Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 842-6799.