We use cookies for site personalization and analytics. You can opt out of third party cookies. More info in our privacy policy.   Got it

Modern Life

Respectful, real and engrossing: Modern Life in rural France.

It’s the faces that stick in the memory. The brothers in their eighties – one all day in the hills with the sheep, the other with the cows. The tiny framed man with grey tangled hair, two-feet long, whose face is a spider-web of lines. The open-faced woman who hardly ever speaks but continually nods and smiles.

Most are unfamiliar and striking – they’re not faces you see in the streets of Western towns and cities. They seem to be pre-industrial but they’re the faces of our contemporaries – the faces of small farmers from the Haut-Garonne in France. Depardon has been a documentary photographer and film maker for over 40 years and a member of Magnum for 30. He himself came from such a farm and this is the third of his Profils Paysans (Peasants’ Portraits).

Very wide shots show people in their rugged landscape; long shots the texture of their lives – a muddy icy yard, an old clock, a tablecloth. An old woman dies, an old man speaks with no front, but seems to carry a terrible hurt and disappointment. We hear their stories, learn about their values. It’s neither postcard lyricism nor miserabilism – just respectful, real and engrossing.


New Internationalist issue 421 magazine cover This article is from the April 2009 issue of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Subscribe today »


Help us produce more like this

Editor Portrait Patreon is a platform that enables us to offer more to our readership. With a new podcast, eBooks, tote bags and magazine subscriptions on offer, as well as early access to video and articles, we’re very excited about our Patreon! If you’re not on board yet then check it out here.

Support us »

Subscribe   Ethical Shop