A stunning portrait of a family trying to maintain their culture and traditions as war rages around them, the graceful historical drama The Guardians is the latest offering from the acclaimed French filmmaker Xavier Beauvois, whose previous films include the award-winning Of Gods and Men and The Price of Fame.
The Guardians is the story of the Paridier family and their farm in the French countryside, where life revolves around everyday chores that service the farm’s seasonal cycle of planting and harvesting. With the breakout of World War I in 1915, the women of the Paridier farm, under the deft hand of family matriarch Hortense (Nathalie Baye), must grapple with the workload while the men, including Hortense’s two sons, are at the front. Hortense reluctantly brings on an outsider, the hard-scrabble teenage orphan Francine (Iris Bry), to help her daughter, Solange (Laura Smet, Baye’s real-life daughter). New tools and technology allow the women to triumph over the land and newfound independence is acquired, yet emotions are stirred, especially when the men return on short leaves. Regardless, it is the Paridier women who are the “guardians” of their land and its traditions.
Adapted from Ernest Pérochon’s 1924 novel, Beauvois’s elegant work, luxuriously shot in widescreen by his go-to cinematographer Caroline Champetier, revels in the mysteries and beauties of the French countryside, here unravaged by the turmoil of war. Filling The Guardians with painterly images bathed in luminous, natural light, Beauvois nevertheless maintains his focus on the intricate drama that plays out against the upheaval of the Great War.
.Q&As with director Xavier Beauvois, cinematographer Caroline Champetier, and actor Nicolas Giraud
.Interview with Champetier
.Music and casting featurettes
.Collector’s booklet featuring an interview with Beauvois and a critical essay
The Guardians Blu-Ray-$34.95
The Guardians DVD-$29.95