Profils Paysans 2: Le Quotidien

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This is the second part of celebrated photographer and documentarist Raymond Depardon’s projected trilogy about life in the rural French regions of Lozère, Ardèche and Haute-Loire . And the title – translated as ‘Profiles of Farmers 2: Daily Life’ – is appropriately straightforward for a work which rejects direct editorial comment and obvious stylistic flourishes in favour of a series of sober, casual portraits of French country folk going about their business and in conversation with the director and each other.

The mood is one of sadness and loss. Depardon captures passing chat – trivial beyond interest at times but fascinating collectively – on everything from the price of cattle to the observation of one unmarried farmer that ‘the celibacy of farmers is a real problem’. But the conversation always returns to core themes: the disinterest of the younger generation; the damage done by the EU; pensions; poverty. A disproportionate number of Depardon’s interviewees, like their way of life, are on the verge of extinction: Marcelle Bresse of L’Hermet is an 87-year-old widow who falls down the stairs and is hospitalised, not to be seen again; Marcel Privat is an 84-year-old shepherd, half-blind from glaucoma: ‘When you’re 84, you’ll take fewer photos than now,’ he tells Depardon, who never appears on camera but whose presence and voice are always apparent.

Depardon’s task looks deceptively simple: he presents individuals talking in their native environment. It’s up to us to draw conclusions about the bigger social and economic picture. But, in truth, the hints are there, and strongly: this is a dying world, on its last legs, gasping for air.

Release details

Release date: Friday July 28 2006
Duration: 85 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Raymond Depardon