Le Château de ma Mère – 1990

The autobiographical sequel of Le Gloire de Mon Pere, and an all-round much more successful film.

chateau

It almost feels counter-intuitive to call this film a sequel. The story begins exactly where the last one ended and continues Marcel’s discovery of the flaws of the adult world. Yet the films are so radically different. In Le Chateau de ma Mere our storyteller becomes more and more mature. As such the narrative style of the film is less obtrusive as it goes on. As Marcel the child discovers subtlety, so does the film. In this way, perhaps Le Gloire de Mon Pere is consciously deliberate, yet, if this cannot be understood from the first film alone can it truly redeem it?

Regardless, Le Chateau de ma Mere, is in a strangely Freudian way a sexual awakening for the narrator. After a brief flirtation with a rich, obnoxious girl living in the same hills as him Marcel returns, Oedipus-like to the clasp of his mother’s hands. Yves Robert does not miss a beat in his directorial approach here, the role of the mother, almost irrelevant in the first film is here all-encompassing. She is weak and in need of the role of protector that Marcel becomes. She holds red roses to her rosy lips and cheeks. In fact one of the first shots of her in the film shows her breastfeeding, a ritual Marcel is all too fascinated by. All this is somewhat disturbing as a comment on male adolescence, but beautifully executed nonetheless.

However the real beauty in this film lies in its ending. After two whole films full of the bright colours of childhood, we see the reality that has forced Marcel into storytelling. The life described after these summers is bleak and lifeless. The colour drains from the screen, the expression from the voices and the hope from the world. A heartwarming tale of growing up becomes the tragedy that every one of us experiences when looking back on childhood. There comes a point at which the world will never be as perfect and brightly-coloured as you once imagined it was.

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