download The Well Digger’s Daughter, Pascal Amoretti (Daniel Auteuil) is a simple well digger and widower with five daughters. His eldest daughter, the beautiful Patricia (Astrid Berges-Frisbey), helps take care of her younger sisters and brings him food while he’s at work. Troubled by the thought of losing his “princess” when she eventually gets married one day, Amoretti decides to allow his co-worker and friend, Felipe (Kad Merad), to ask for her hand – that way he can keep her close by rather than risk her being taken away by a “prince” to some faraway land. download The Well Digger’s Daughter
download The Well Digger’s Daughter, But Patricia has already found a prince, Jacques Mazel (Nicolas Duvauchelle), a pilot and son of a wealthy shop owner (Jean-Pierre Darroussin). During a brief moment of weakness, Patricia succumbs to the young man’s charms, and when Jacques is suddenly sent to war before their next meeting, she finds herself alone and pregnant, to the dismay of her deeply disappointed father…
download The Well Digger’s Daughter, When Patricia and Jacques first meet, they are separated by a stream that cuts through a field. On one side, Jacques, dressed in a white shirt and smart, cream trousers, tries to catch fish with his hands for fun; on the other side, Patricia is busy unfastening her worn-out boots so she can walk through the water and deliver her father’s lunch. When Jacques asks her if she wants to cross the stream, Patricia asks, sarcastically, “Why, is it yours?” He tells her that since the stream crosses his father’s land, he does own it. “The land isn’t yours whatever you paid for it… You don’t work it,” she remarks. This is the opening scene of The Well-Digger’s Daughter, and in it, the film immediately establishes it’s preoccupation with the nature of class, and in particular, with the feelings the working-class have towards the bourgeoisie.
download The Well Digger’s Daughter, When we first see Amoretti, in his tattered work clothes and covered in debris after a day spent exploding mines down a well, he is the very picture of the noble proletariat – a man who earns an honest living through hard labour. Amoretti has no love for those far better off than himself – doctors, dentists, tax inspectors – and he worries that these modern day “princes” will whisk his beautiful daughter away.
The Well Digger’s Daughter download, Patricia – who was raised by a wealthy Parisian woman – sounds as if she is a member of a ‘higher class’ when she speaks. Paradoxically, this is what – coupled with her beauty and filial piety – makes her seem so special to him. “She’s not like us,” Amoretti declares to Felipe when the latter first expresses his intention to marry Patricia. The Well Digger’s Daughter download
When Amoretti takes Patricia to visit Jacques wealthy mother (Sabine Azema) and father to inform them that their son has impregnated his daughter, he is treated with contempt. “I see now that it’s wise to be wary of people who sell tools but who never use them,” he says, directing his remarks at Jacques father, whom Amoretti regularly buys tools from.
Amoretti and the Mazel’s might not share the same amount of wealth, but they do share the notion that Patricia’s pregnancy is something no-one should know about – it’s presumably far too shameful. Amoretti – who after disowning Patricia refers to her as “the lost girl” and to her child as “the bastard” – believes she has committed a “sin” by getting pregnant out of wedlock. “And I thought you were an angel,” he says to Patricia after she tells him she’s had sex. “Angels don’t live on earth. I’m like any other girl,” she replies.
The Well Digger’s Daughter download, But the wide spread practice of sex before marriage and the rapid decline of filial piety in the modern world is so far removed from the value system that runs through The Well-Digger’s Daughter that Amoretti’s reaction to Patricia’s dilemma is something modern audiences might not be able to relate to emotionally.
download The Well Digger’s Daughter movie, Auteuil has failed to create a real sense of what it must be like to feel the way Amoretti does. Where does his shame come from? We haven’t been able to see any evidence that the world he lives in is one that upholds the particular notions that drive him to disown his daughter. It’s not enough for us to know that these values were ones that strongly influenced people during the 1940s; we need to see that they did in order for us to become emotionally involved in the film.
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But there are other omissions in The Well-Digger’s Daughter that also severely limit its power to engage the audience emotionally. Quite inexplicably, characters seem to find out information that propels the narrative forward, whilst some key moments during scenes between Patricia and Jacques, which would help us understand the love she feels for him, take place entirely off screen. We never get a real sense of why she not only loves him, but why she would sleep with him after having only met him twice. download The Well Digger’s Daughter movie