A note on "The Horseman on the Roof"
Commenters on the film “Le Hussard sur le Toit” (“The Horseman on the Roof”) sometimes speak of its “soft ending”. Of course the reason for that “soft ending” is that the Giono novel on which the film is based is second novel in a cycle. The story of Angelo Pardi and Pauline de Theus which commences in Giono’s “Angelo” continues, on paper at least, with “Le Foi Bonheur” and “La Mort d’un Personnage “.
That Jean-Paul Rappeneau was able to coax a film from the novel which had baffled filmmakers for over 40 years - Edouard Niermans/Jean Cosmos, Rene Clement/Roger Leenhardt, Luis Bunuel, and Roman Polanski had all tried- is a achievement. Rappeneau was quoted at the time of the film’s release as saying that after “Cyrano”, he wanted to try something considered “intournable” . Anyone familiar with the film and surprised to see Bunuel among those attempting to film this story would need to be told that the cholera epidemic is more in the foreground in the novel. The novel is often compared to Camus’ “La Peste”. Bunuel was probably attracted by Angelo’s lengthy stay -greatly truncated by Rappeneau- on the roofs of Manosque (at least four days, in the novel) and a further passage where Angelo works with a nun who cares for the victims of the epidemic. Note though the presence of longtime Bunuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carriere who reportedly was brought in late by Rappeneau .