Proven­cal per­fec­tion too good for coypu

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

6.30pm, ABC THIS 30- minute doc­u­men­tary ( the script only makes it feel like A Year in Provence ) be­gins with soft shots of a lovely land­scape and a softer voice as­sur­ing us that in this south­east cor­ner of France ‘‘ the land seems to bask in the eter­nal light of sum­mer, the pas­sion of its peo­ple keeps this se­cret Eden alive’’. Get the pic­ture? This is soft- core travel porn, all al­lur­ing images de­signed to ap­peal to the BBC’s main mar­ket, the Bri­tish mid­dle class, who may not like the French much but adore liv­ing in their coun­try, which is prob­a­bly why half the peo­ple who ap­pear in this pro­gram are English.

Such as the ex­pat cel­list who loves life there, pre­sum­ably be­cause she gets to make pretty speeches about how mak­ing mu­sic in Provence is like ‘‘ play­ing in a nat­u­ral church’’ and how much she likes rose­mary and thyme, and pre­sum­ably pars­ley and sage as well. And the or­nithol­o­gist who roams the high coun­try study­ing birds, in par­tic­u­lar the grif­fon vul­ture.

Wild Provence

Their lives un­doubt­edly look lovely. And the pro­duc­ers do their best to make it plain that nearly ev­ery­thing in Provence is per­fect.

There are long, lin­ger­ing looks at laven­der fields, quite a lot of looks at laven­der ac­tu­ally, sup­ported by an in­ter­view with a farmer whose fam­ily was cul­ti­vat­ing the herb be­fore any­body thought of screw­ing a per­fume pro­duc­tion sub­sidy out of the Euro­pean Union.

Then there is a chat with a chap who is a lonely goatherd by trade ( apart from pass­ing cam­era crews), who bangs on about how rare and spe­cial his goats are ( fun­nily enough, he does not de­mand a chevre sub­sidy, but maybe that bit was cut).

This is fol­lowed by a bloke who owns a wildlife park and is keen on flamin­gos. Fi­nally there is the pa­tri­arch of a fam­ily that runs cat­tle in the Ca­mar­gue re­gion of the Rhone delta, and ex­pects ev­ery­body else to help them keep things the way they are.

And un­der­stand­ably so, be­cause it seems the only things wrong with life in Provence are the mis­tral, which makes it a bit breezy, and the pres­ence in the Ca­mar­gue of the coypu, a gi­ant aquatic guinea pig that some dill im­ported from South Amer­ica.

And it is all beau­ti­fully pho­tographed, mak­ing Provence look like a sen­sual fan­tasy where peo­ple live in a lan­guorous land­scape, ‘‘ where the pace of life is slower, the days richer’’.

But slower and richer than what is not ex­plained.

And this is the strength as well as the weak­ness of travel porn. It looks al­lur­ing but it turns Provence into a fan­tasy where peo­ple live in har­mony with each other and the only el­e­ment out of place is the coypu.

Se­cret Eden’:

dwells on laven­der fields and other pas­toral de­lights

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.