Is the film true to historical reality?

THE GAULE MOVIE. The feature film with Lambert Wilson, released in March 2020, tells about the appeal of June 18, 1940 and part of the life of Charles de Gaulle.

[Mis à jour le 8 mai 2022 à 20h50] de Gaulle is the first biopic dedicated to the historical figure of the first president of the Fifth Republic. In order not to tell the general’s story linearly, director Gabriel Bomin chose to count the weeks leading up to the June 18, 1940 roll call, inspired by the British film The Speech of a King† The feature film remains faithful to historical reality as we know it, but allows itself some minor anachronisms (particularly a plane with three white stripes whose sign did not exist before 1944) and liberties with reality. For example, the Charles de Gaulle Foundation and his family were not consulted (but were made aware of the project) so that the film would not be “hagiographic”. Since Yvonne de Gaulle’s personality is less well known, more liberties have been taken with this character as well.

So that de Gaulle be as true to historical reality as possible, director Gabriel Bomin has gone through biographies, history books, more personal stories like that of his son, the letters Charles and Yvonne exchanged daily. This formed the fundamental basis for writing the screenplay for the film, which combines historical moments and scenes from intimate life. “After that, you have to make choices, and above all invest the spaces of fiction and bring them to life with honesty and likeness,” he admitted in an interview with at the time of the film’s release. This is how certain moments are imagined: if Anne, the couple’s daughter, had Down syndrome, the director and screenwriter imagined the scene in which Yvonne De Gaulle painted the (existing) photo of her husband with his daughter on her arms. takes the beach. †

For his part, Lambert Wilson also admitted to Linternaute that he was “not trying to imitate” [Charles de Gaulle]”. “I don’t think it’s a very interesting exercise. The perfect imitation is entertaining for a while, but you can miss the point. I think it’s more important to give a feeling, a vibration to the character and to understand what moves him.” But, as the actor admits, the work of incarnation was more complicated to make the scenes of the intimate life than the scenes in which the character in his traditional military costume is known to the public: “We have to make decisions where there is no information at all, except the letters, their correspondence, this described their son the family situation and the atmosphere there , and so forth. […] We have responsibilities, if not to relatives, we are still obligated to do nothing. And at the same time you have to be imaginative, invent their body language.”

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Charles de Gaulle, a historical French figure of the 20th century, had never had the right to a cinema adaptation of his life. Only TV movies had attempted the exercise. It’s now over with De Gaulle, released in cinemas on March 4, 2020. Carried by Lambert Wilson and Isabelle Carré, the feature film looks back on the few weeks leading up to the General’s departure to London and the June 18 call, 1940.

Short content – In June 1940, Marshal Pétain wants to stop the armed struggle against Germany. The chairman of the council Paul Reynaud and General de Gaulle want to continue the fight but are not heard. The armistice has been signed. De Gaulle decides to go to London to seek help from Prime Minister Winston Churchill and thus continue the global conflict. For her part, Yvonne, his wife, sees the enemy advancing dangerously and therefore decides to take to the road with their children. In England, the general remains without news of his family and is about to deliver a speech that will change the course of his life and of history…

Critics were relatively pleased with De Gaulle when it was released in March 2022. This “four-star biopic” for Culturebox, which takes on the challenge “with panache”, while La Croix is ​​”a moving film about the dark hours of the spring of 1940 that offers a sentimental vision of a single strategist against all”. The bet is also successful for Télé-Loisirs, who salutes “an ambitious biopic produced as a political thriller and offers real dramatic suspense”. In general, Lambert Wilson’s interpretation has been praised by critics, Les Inrocks deeming it “inhabited” by his character.

However, not everyone is convinced of the emotion of the film. In particular, Le Parisien criticizes De Gaulle for “the flatness of the historical narrative, which is too classic”. For these media the feature film “Lack of breath” and “De Gaulle does not fit into the history … of cinema”. An opinion shared by the specialized media Premiere deploring a “stalled biopic”: “Gabriel Le Bomin confirms the difficulty of turning the general into a great fictional character”. However, De Gaulle should make curious lovers of the genre, or those who want to immerse themselves in this complex period of our history.

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