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De Gaulle

The making of a President

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Lambert Wilson is a versatile actor of a kind few exist in France. But with Gabriel Le Bomin’s De Gaulle, Wilson has set the bar even higher, donning the uniform of the famous general — “the man who said no” to the French surrender to the German on 18 June 1940.  Wilson’s transformative interpretation anchors De Gaulle, which combines the great History of the last few weeks of collapse of the French army up to the “Appeal of 18 June” calling for resistance, with the romantic portrait of a couple and a family without bearings on the roads of exile.

poster for the biographical drama De GaulleIn June 1940, Colonel de Gaulle is called back to Paris from the front and made General. His belief that the conflict will be worldwide and that French forces must continue the fight from their colonies is immediately opposed by Marshal Pétain (Philippe Laudenbach) and General Weygand (Alain Lenglet) who are calling for an armistice. Going back and forth between London and Paris to negotiate with Churchill (Tim Hudson) while the French government flees to Bordeaux, de Gaulle soon faces a risky choice: whether or not to disobey orders in the interest of salvaging his own conception of France’s moral stature. Meanwhile, the General is worried about his own family — his wife Yvonne (Isabelle Carré) and their three children who are travelling the roads of France.

With de Gaulle, Gabriel Le Bomin offers up an instructive and fascinating film, documenting a series of dramatic political events unfolding at great speed. Lambert Wilson is a credible de Gaulle, well supported by the other cast members.

– Fabien Lermericer, Cineuropa

De Gaulle sits at a microphoneUne scène d’amour conjugale. La première image, douce, tendre, donne la tonalité de ce beau film sur le tournant décisif dans la vie de Charles de Gaulle, 50 ans, brillant colonel de l’armée. Le film se cantonne à ces quelques semaines, entre avril et juin 1940 où tout se joue, où par sa hauteur de vues, sa lucidité, son opposition au maréchal Pétain, sa force de conviction face à un Winston Churchill peu enclin à porter secours à une France à genoux, Charles de Gaulle acquiert sa stature historique. Le discours du 18 juin 1940 au micro de la BBC, morceau de bravoure du film, montre la puissance du verbe et la volonté d’un homme pour galvaniser les énergies quand tout semble perdu.

Gabriel Le Bomin tisse un fil narratif fidèle aux événements historiques, tout en accordant au futur chef de la France libre un romantisme sentimental et paternel qui lui est rarement attribué. L’intelligence de ce film repose sur l’équilibre entre la pertinence et l’acuité de ce stratège, la force de sa volonté, et la fragilité de cet homme inflexible sans lequel…

Lambert Wilson incarne de Gaulle avec panache, instillant, par des gestes, des attitudes, des regards, une profondeur intérieure, une fragilité inhabituelle, une détermination de rageur.

– Jean-Claude Raspiengeas, La Croix

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