In the mid-'20s, hunchback tax collector Jean Cadoret (Depardieu) inherits a Provence farm, moving there with wife and daughter to fulfil his naive city-dweller's dreams of an idyllic pastoral life. The map shows a valuable spring on his land, but the cunning Soubeyrans - Montand and son Auteuil - have stopped it up, and plan to wait for him to go broke so that they can buy up his property for a song. Depardieu, though, has some scientific knowledge up his suit sleeve, and at first his crops thrive...Berri and scriptwriter Gérard Brach brilliantly capture the rhythm of the countryside, where the pace of life is dictated by inexorable seasonal changes and the often cruel vagaries of the weather. An object lesson in literary adaptation, the film eschews mere illustration to favour an elliptical narrative which embodies, through the subtlest nuances of dialogue and the most delicate shadings of light and colour, the atmosphere and meaning of Marcel Pagnol's source novel, L'Eau des collines. But it is Depardieu who supplies the heart and soul of the film with a performance of towering strength and heartbreaking pathos. Manon des Sources, the second part of the diptych, followed in the same year.