Over a period of several years, we observe the daily life and habits of the elderly Jules Guiteaux as he works on his rural farm in Burgundy. He is a blacksmith, still using hand-operated bellows, and he hammers with evident skill and precision at his anvil. He enjoys a sturdy lunch and wine with his wife Felicie, who is seen fetching water from a well, and making afternoon coffee over the fire. Later, Jules performs the household chores alone, making his bed and laying a table for one.
Shot between 1968 and 1973 in rich widescreen with sharp stereo sound, this meditative portrait of a time gone by was unavailable for 40 years before being digitally restored in 2013. It is a living remnant of an era untouched by the speed and noise of modern life, and Benicheti’s unhurried eye captures a now-extinct agrarian lifestyle. The film takes on an existential edge in the second half as Benicheti’s camera observes a gravedigger in a cemetery, and we feel the absence of Felicie. Jules continues, but the question of mortality and meaning hovers over the mournful, lyrical final scenes. Get related to this fascinating, one-of-a-kind documentary.