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Five must-see films that tell the story of the world of farmers

In February 2021, the ratings were astonished: We Peasants, a documentary by Fabien Béziat and Agnès Poirier, had attracted five million viewers on France 2, blithely beating American series and reality shows.

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Five must-see films that tell the story of the world of farmers

In February 2021, the ratings were astonished: We Peasants, a documentary by Fabien Béziat and Agnès Poirier, had attracted five million viewers on France 2, blithely beating American series and reality shows. On the eve of the Agricultural Show and after months of confinement, the French were curious about what was happening in their countryside. We peasants (still available in replay and rebroadcast Monday January 29 on France 5) explores a world in which the cameras are regularly placed. From fictionalized frescoes to realistic cinema including some meticulous documentaries, a selection of five great films on the peasant world.

Pierre, a young breeder, took over the family dairy farm. When one of his twenty-five animals fell victim to mad cow disease, he decided to slaughter it and say nothing to the health services, fearing that they would destroy his entire herd. He can't bring himself to lose his cows: he has nothing else and will go to any length to save them. His sister, a veterinarian, warns him that he is at great risk

For this sensitive and powerful drama, crowned by multiple awards including three Césars, Hubert Charuel worked on his script with Claude Le Pape for three years. He delivers a remarkable genre film, which borrows from the codes of thriller and fantasy, plays on the bucolic side and clichés before branching off towards darker notes and becoming almost naturalistic.

Little Peasant, film by Hubert Charuel, with Swann Arlaud and Sara Giraudeau, 2017, 1h30. Available on video on demand on Apple, Amazon or Canal platforms.

Also read: Little peasant: Hubert Charuel, cow love

1916. Bill, a worker in a foundry in Chicago, flees after hitting a foreman. With Abby, his girlfriend, and his younger sister Linda, he climbs on a train, heading to the great plains of Texas, with other proletarians looking for work. In the middle of nowhere, men and women are hired to harvest the fields of a rich owner. Anxious to go unnoticed, Bill and Abby hide their relationship. But the farmer, Chuck, falls in love with the young woman and wants to marry her. Bill pushes her to accept because he learned, by chance, that Chuck has a serious illness and won't last long.

No one expected these harvests. In 1978, Terence Malick presented his second film, five years after the confidential Badlands. And here he touches grace by creating a majestic drama, the simplicity of ancient theater, carried by sublime photography - most of the scenes were shot at dawn or dusk - awarded an Oscar, and the music by Enio Morricone and Erik Satie. The film will be selected at Cannes for the Palme d’Or and Mailick, at 35, will win the directing prize.

The Harvests of Heaven, film by Terence Malick with Richard Gere, Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard, 1978, 1h34. Available on video on demand on Apple, Amazon or Canal platforms.

In an America brought to its knees by the Great Depression, the Joad family, sharecroppers, seeks salvation. Victims of land speculators and repeated droughts, the farmers are driven from their land, accompanied by the community's former pastor who has lost his faith. Everyone is preparing to reach California, a land of plenty for the poor, as a leaflet states...

John Steinbeck's masterpiece transformed into a cinematic masterpiece by John Ford. Although the writer was not completely satisfied with the adaptation, the 1940 film acts as a revealer of an America collapsing in on itself. The realism of The Grapes of Wrath, which relies on a multitude of details, was a landmark, carried by the flawless incarnation of Henry Fonda, John Carradine and Jane Darwell. Both the book and the film were not released until 1947 in France, in a country which was struggling to recover from the war and where the slums were swelling under the pressure of the rural exodus.

The Grapes of Wrath, film by John Ford, with Henry Fonda, John Carradine and Jane Darwell, 1940, 2h09. Available on video on demand on the Amazon or Canal platforms.

His small factory, his small town, his snobbish little wife... Francis Bergeade, manufacturer of toilet glasses in the Jura, can no longer stand his bourgeois and narrow existence which turns into a succession of problems. On a whim - and a twist of fate - he leaves everything behind to take refuge in a farm in the Gers, where he enjoys a simpler life - he believes - with both feet planted in the earth.

Étienne Chatiliez has a nose for turning sociologists' analyzes and INSEE spreadsheets into comedy. After the class struggle recounted in Life is a Long Quiet River and the decrepitude of Auntie Danielle's old age, the director makes the country unravel with the divide between urban France and rural France. Nearly 5 million spectators dream of following Michel Serrault in his new life as a duck breeder, on the arm - that doesn't spoil anything - of the beautiful Carmen Maura.

Happiness is in the meadow, film by Étienne Chatiliez, with Michel Serrault, Carmen Maura, Sabine Azéma, Eddy Mitchell, 1h46, 1995. Available on video on demand on the Amazon or Canal platforms.

On her farm in Forez, Claudette, 75, fights to remain dignified in the face of a society that no longer has much to do with her, and whose evolution she finds difficult to accept and follow. The modern world swallows up more of its land, its animals and those of its neighbors every day. Like her, Jean, Christiane, Jean-Clément, Raymond, Mathilde and all the others resist and fight on a daily basis to preserve their know-how, their property and their lives.

After a decade of work in New York, photographer Christophe Agou returns to his native Forez. For eight years, he documented a peasant world that one could imagine outside of time, but which disintegrated as its people died. Presented at Cannes in 2017, after the death of its director, the documentary film draws a portrait as close as possible to its subject and, with the trilogy La Vie moderne - Profils paysans, by Raymond Depardon, is a must-see for this France on borrowed time. the dawn of the 21st century.

Without goodbye, film by Christophe Agou, 2017, 1h39. Available on video on demand on the Orange and Universciné platforms. Modern Life-Peasant Profiles, trilogy by Raymond Depardon, 2001-2008, 1h33, 1h25 and 1h33. Available on video on demand on Arte boutique.

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