The first part of Marcel Pagnol's four-volume autobiography represents an unclouded homage to a childhood of apparently unchanging sunshine. In comparison to Jean de Florette and its sequel, this is a film of small pleasures. Robert eschews the top rank of French actors in favour of those with a genuine Provençal background, a decision Pagnol would surely have admired. But other decisions seem less successful. The book's charm comes from the sly contrast between the grown-up Pagnol's narration and his young self's naivety. Robert does use a narrator, but much of the verbal humour is lost on audiences reliant on subtitling or struggling to decipher the vernacular. The child actors have charm in good measure, but charm cannot be built into a film: you have to let it arise. Although the landscape is as impressive as ever, the film always looks too pretty, and Robert can't resist the temptation to swamp key scenes with Vladimir Cosma's heavy Mantovani strings.