red or royal partridges. The brace ofngame birds that Marcel retrieves is hisnfather’s glory, except that the real glorynis the father’s promotion from know-allndemigod (he is a teacher, after all, atnthe school young Marcel attends andncombines both parental and scholarlynauthority) to fallible and yet lovablenhuman being. These are issues of asnmuch subtlety as substance, and withoutnthe steadiness of vision both ofnPagnol and of Robert, the epiphany tonwhich the movie tends and on which itndepends could have been vulgarizednand ruined. Instead, it is deeply satisfyingnand moving.nMy Mother’s Castle is also a playfulntitle, having to do with one of thenchateaux through the properties ofnwhich the family used to take an illegalnshortcut that reduced by several milesntheir walk each Friday from the end ofnthe Marseille trolly line to La Bastidenand their country cottage. There are annumber of different arrangements JosephnPagnol has made in order to availnhimself and his family of this shortcutn— deals with a canal worker, with onenof the owners, some of the caretakers,nbut, most important, with his ownnscruples. He also relies a bit on stealthnand luck that eventually fails. A wardennnot only confronts the family but bullies,nthreatens, and, most important,nhumiliates them all, particularly Augustine,nMarcel’s maman. (NathalienRoussel plays Augustine and has anwhole-wheat beauty not unlike that ofnDorothy McGuire.) The family’s extricationnfrom the chagrin and thenthreat of that mean and officious wardennis a characteristically Pagnolesquenmoment, a reversal, a blessed relentingnnot so much on the part of the wardennas of the benevolent place itself, a gift,nas it were, of those hills and their statenof grace.nThe angle of vision is that of thenmature and sophisticated adult lookingnback on a lost golden moment. Onencan recall the figures of Pagnol’s mentalnrepertory company, the benevolentnoaf that Fernandel used to play (here,nit’s the canal worker who is even givenna Fernandel-like “Ah, ya-ya,” at onenpoint) or the benevolent scamp (thenpoacher here but clearly the precursornof Amede in Angele). Or we can skipndirectly to our own experience, thinknof the “good old days,” and join Pagnolnin his exquisite combination of thanks­ngiving and mourning with’which thenfilm so gracefully ends. It is true, asnRaymond Williams has pointed out innThe Country and the City, that thenrecollection of a time about a generationnand a half ago as a golden age is anconstant in English poetry that goesnback several hundred years, but ourntime has experienced more dramaticnand violent changes than any our ancestorsnhad to experience. The automobilenhas transformed geography,nprobably irreversibly.nWhen the railroad tracks comenthrough in a Western to join the townnto the rest of the country, we know thatnthe good times are gone and that thenfrontier has closed down. Our sense ofnloss is only sharpened by the glimpsesnthe cinematographer has contrived fornus of that world that has all but disappeared.nRobert’s miracle here is inncreating a limitless panorama of sternnbeauty that spoke to Pagnol and cannotnfail to speak to us. There is a spectacularnthunderstorm. There are splendidnvistas — Marcel and Paul argue everynmorning about whose turn it is tonthrow open the shutters to the dailynmiracle of the view. There is, most ofnall, a feeling of wholeness and security—na continuity of family, society,nand nature that is happiness, which is angift better than wisdom, because wisdomnis only “what some of us earn inncompensation for the inevitable loss, bynchange or by death, of precious momentsnof happiness.nPagnol wrote, “In these memoriesnof childhood, I will not speak of myselfneither badly or well: it is not me whomnI speak of, but a child who I no longernam. It is a little person whom I knewnand who found himself in the open air,nin the manner of the sparrows whondisappear without leaving a skeleton.nMoreover, he is not the subject of thisnbook, but the witness of very smallnevents. It is merely a testimony of anbygone age and a little song of filialnpiety which in our day, perhaps, maynpass for a great novelty.”nIt is up to us to realize that thenevents are not, after all, so small. Andnthat this film by Yves Robert is one ofnthe grand achievements of movies,nright up there with those of the master,nhimselfnDavid R. Slavitt is a poet and noveUstnwho hves in Philadelphia.nnnConfessions of annEx-Marinenby Clinton W. TrowbridgenCreative, Close-Order Drilln^^T eft! ! Left! ! Left!n1—1 Right! Left!” The drill instructorninside of me had successfully surfacednand was now exulting in command.nWe were approaching the cornernof the parade field, and I was gettingnready for “To the left! ! March!”nwhen it suddenly occurred to me thatnit might be amusing to preface thatnwith one “To the rear! ! March!”nfollowed almost immediately bynanother — a sort of platoon pirouette, anbit of Marine Corps skip step, so preciselynexecuted that surprise would bentransformed into wonder. It was thenperfect opportunity to impress LieutenantnBingham and the rest of the brass.nThe question was not would my troopsnrespond — they were Marines!—butnwould Dennis Riley, in charge of thenplatoon to my rear,, understand and,nmore importantly, react in time to avoidnterminal collision. His pirouette wouldnforce the platoon behind him to do thensame. The domino principle wouldnapply, and the total effect would be anmaneuver that would go down in thenhistory books.nTwo columns had already hit thenbarracks wall, some thirty yards off thenedge of the field. “To the rear! !nMarch!” I shouted, but by then thenplatoon was sprawled up against thenDECEMBER 1991/49n