Co-adapted by director Claude Berri from a novel by Marcel Pagnol, this hugely successful French historical drama concerns a bizarre battle royale over a valuable natural spring in a remote French farming community. City dweller Jean Cadoret (Gérard Depardieu) assumes ownership of the spring when the original owner is accidentally killed by covetous farmer Cesar Soubeyran (Yves Montand). Soubeyran and his equally disreputable nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) pull every dirty trick in the book to force Cadoret off his land, but the novice farmer stands firm. Although the Soubeyrans appear to gain the upper hand, the audience is assured that they will eventually be foiled by the vengeful daughter of the spring's deceased owner -- thus setting the stage for the film's equally successful sequel, Manon of the Spring.
by Hal Erickson synopsis