Back in 1961, the Lot-et-Garonne village of Castillonnès became the centre of France’s film industry. Director René Clair set his comedy Tout l’or du monde in its central square.
This week, the village celebrated this brief notoriety with an open-air projection of the film onto the front of its cinema. My friend Christine captured the moment for me.
I couldn’t be there, unfortunately. I had to make do with watching the film on DVD here in Lille.
The film tells the tale of a Parisian businessman who sets out to buy a whole village. He then speculates on what he claims are the life-lengthening properties of the water of the fountain in the central square.
The only thing standing in his way are local farmer Mathieu and his son, who refuse to sell…
I know the central square well. Our friend Keeley has a house there – in fact you can see it in the centre of this still from the film.
It looks as through the film makers also used her front room as the location of an office scene in the film.
Keeley is the woman who introduced us to the area, launching within us the idea of a second career in France. That was seven years ago, and now we stand on the threshold of opening a cheese-and-wine bar in Belvès 40 minutes away.
Unlike our plans, the film hasn’t quite stood the test of time.
It starred Bourvil playing the part of both Mathieu and his son. He made something of a career out of playing obtuse characters set against dishonest or bossy adversaries.
Its projection this week comes just days after the mairie of Castillonnès unveiled the village’s new-look central square, Place des Cornières. What was once a car park is now a place to sit, thanks to some new benches and plants.
Mind you, by the look of the tarmac they have put down, it seems they ran out of money to do the square justice. Perhaps they too could have done with tout l’or du monde…?