Claude Berri was the producer of Tess, a 1979 film based on Thomas Hardy’s novel about individuals defeated by forces beyond their comprehension or control. Now he has created Jean de Florette, the first of a two-part screen adaptation of Marcel Pagnol’s 1963 novel. This luxuriously photographed and well-acted tale has a magisterial quality to it. Yves Montand is excellent as a wily French farmer in the 1920s who conspires with his weak-willed and ugly nephew (Daniel Auteuil) to drive their new neighbor Jean (Gerard Depardieu) off the farm he has inherited. This is an emotionally affecting morality tale about greed, deception, murder, jealousy, and undeserved anguish.