The Guardians (Les Gardiennes)

Certificate 15

(2017) 138 mins

Director: Xavier Beauvois
Writers: Xavier Beauvois, Frédérique Moreau, from the novel by Ernest Pérochon
Cinematography: Caroline Champetier
Production Design: Yann Megard
Music: Michel Legrand


Directed by Xavier Beauvois (who made the wonderful Of Gods and Men), The Guardians is an affecting human drama of love, loss, and resilience unfolding against the backdrop of World War I. The women of the Paridier farm, under the deft hand of Hortense, the family’s matriarch (Nathalie Baye), must grapple with the workload while the men, including two sons, are off at the front. Hortense reluctantly brings in an outsider, the hard-scrabble teenage orphan, Francine ( newcomer Iris Bry, outstanding), to help her daughter Solange (Laura Smet). New tools allow the women to triumph over the land, newfound independence is acquired, yet emotions are stirred especially when the men return from the front on short leaves.  Music Box Films

In French with subtitles

For more information, including a full cast list and reviews, go to:

Showings of this film are part of our Cinematheque season which is supported by the British Film Institute.


From its slow-burning beginning, The Guardians develops into an epic melodrama. It’s a wartime story in which, for a change, the men are relegated to supporting roles. It follows in a tradition of French rural family sagas like Jean de Floretteor Manon des Sources. The landscapes and the changing seasons play as much of a part in the story as the main characters.”  The Independent

“Beauvois’s vision of the period is totally convincing, and his depiction of hardscrabble farm life rings with a quiet vibrancy – a slow-burn story of tragedy and betrayal takes shape, but some of the best moments here are when the film just watches Hortense, Francine and Solange go about their work, and sequences in which charcoal is made in a mossy forest kiln and pats of golden butter are slapped into shape in the pantry look like magical rites.”  The Telegraph

The Guardians is a rewarding and rich film, which offers a delicately considered and often troubling insight into the lives of those left behind by history: those who, in the priest’s words, “still drain the bitter cup of life” while others march to their death”  Sight and Sound

Mon 18 Feb Chepstow
Fri 01 Mar Stogumber
Tue 12 Mar Castle Cary
Fri 15 Mar Stockbridge
Fri 22 Mar Crowcombe


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