In 1920s Provence, crafty farmer Cesar (Montand) and his dim-bulb nephew Ugolin (Auteuil) both covet the adjoining land, which holds a spring capable of sustaining a lucrative flower-growing business. Unfortunately, on the death of their old neighbor, one Jean Cadoret (Depardieu) inherits the acreage, and decides to farm it himself. Greedy and conniving, Cesar commits an act of treachery to which Jean becomes an unwitting victim.
Adapted from Marcel Pagnol's two-volume novel, Claude Berri's magnificent "Jean de Florette" (and its sequel, "Manon of the Spring"), center on the bounty we owe to water, comprising two parts of one rich story. The great Yves Montand delivers a memorable, nuanced portrayal of the scheming "Le Papet," while the equally brilliant Depardieu tugs at the heartstrings as determined hunchback Cadoret, who struggles against impossible odds to make his farm a success. Stunningly picturesque, "Jean" reaches a high watermark for period drama.