De Gaulle: when the cinema tells General de Gaulle’s most beautiful love story

In 2020, Lambert Wilson plays Charles de Gaulle in “De Gaulle” by Gabriel Le Bomin, a historical and biopic film that takes sides to show the man rather than the myth, lover and father of a family before the statesman. And for this purpose, it brilliantly and gently shows the relationship between Charles and his daughter with Down syndrome Anne.

DeGaulleman before the statesman

The history of France in the 20th century is inseparable from the great figure of General de Gaulle. It may seem strange that it has been so little represented and explored in cinema, but it would be very complex to reduce it to one of its various dimensions. Military, Resistant, First President of the Fifth Republic, author, Charles de Gaulle exists above all in the permanent association of these identities, making him the exemplary model for French statesman.

Charles de Gaulle (Lambert Wilson) – DeGaulle © SND

But telling about the statesman is not the goal of Gabriel Le Bomin and Lambert Wilson, the director and lead actor in DeGaullecommitting in this biopic and historical film, released in March 2020, to show General de Gaulle in its most intimate dimension : that of Yvonne’s lover (Isabelle Carré), the father of the family, the man full of doubts and weaknesses, in the period prior to his entry into the resistance and the famous appeal of 18 June 1940 (our review here, our interview of the actors there).

And without voyeurism, without indiscretion, with great modesty, DeGaulle provides an important place for the relationship that Charles de Gaulle had to his daughter with Down syndrome, Anne.

When Yvonne and Charles de Gaulle refused the separation

The writers of the film could have overlooked this topic. But on the contrary, they made the decision to explore the personality of their protagonist through the prism of his relationship with Anne, born in January 1928 and who died in in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.

Suffering from trisomy 21 – a then still unknown chromosomal anomaly – we see in one of the flashbacks of DeGaulle that his parents immediately denied placement in a centerto live with the family, with the two other children, Philippe and Elisabeth.

DeGaulle © SND

A bold decision at a time when this disease was silent, poorly perceived, hidden, shameful. Like a common thread, DeGaulle thus shows the love and purity of the relationship between father and daughter. Those close to Charles de Gaulle and members of his family have always said that he, sober and restrained in his relationships, proved himself to be the opposite tender and outward-looking with Anne, which the film’s retrospective also suggests.

Difficulty, but “exceptional moments of truth”

In the film, we see Anne at three different ages, between 6 months and twelve years. To interpret it as twelve years old, it is with the young Clémence Hittin that the film crew worked. Shortly before the release of the film, Isabelle Carré told us about the uniqueness of this collaboration and the difficulties encountered during the filming.

To work with Clémence one had to adapt all the time, for she did not learn the text and could not easily become the same place. Sometimes she wanted to, then she wanted no more, so she had to improvise. She knew she had a rebellion scene where she had to say “no, no, no”. Her mother had told her the story, and she remembered this scene, the others much less. So she still wanted to play that scene. So we always started playing it again, then managed to get her to change her mind and take her to another scene.

For children with Down syndrome, the notion of time is complicated, as is the notion of lying. If she throws herself into Lambert’s arms, it is in fact that she throws herself there with genuine devotion. Organizing on the set is complicated, but it provides exceptional moments of truth.

The front page of a famous cliché

Forced to compose with this part of non-acting, the actors and the director manage to sublimate this limitation and thus deliver an authenticity which is the flesh of Lambert Wilson’s incarnation. Another flashback of the film also shows in a sequence taking a famous photograph (at the top of the article).

Charles and Anne de Gaulle in 1933
Charles and Anne de Gaulle in 1933 © Wikipedia

A photograph that the film takes a liberty of, as it imagines that it is Yvonne who takes it, while its author is unknown. A step aside in fiction, but which serves the film’s project, to show the unfailing love that united the de Gaulle family.

DeGaulle ends when Yvonne and the Gaulle children finally reach London on June 19, 1940. In February 1948, Anne dies and her parents found Anne-de-Gaulle Foundations, intended to accommodate young women with mental disabilities. According to diplomat and author Pierre de Boisdeffre, author of De Gaulle in spite of himselfwhen Anne died, Charles de Gaulle would have grabbed his wife’s arm and whispered: “Now she is like the others. “

Died November 9, 1970, Charles de Gaulle is buried with his daughter in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.

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