6 March 2020.
DE GAULLE *** (vo French)
Proud, arrogant, prickly, difficult, and authoritarian with a dictatorial streak. These are the words that tend to come to mind when we think of General de Gaulle. And indeed he could be all of those things. Ask the world leaders he came up against. Ask the French politicians and generals he often crossed swords with. Ask the people he worked for and alongside. The British had a memorable taste of it when he twice refused the UK’s accession to the EU. Given recent events perhaps he had a prescience which others didn’t.
But he had qualities too and this good biopic depicts them as it covers a short six week period of his life around June 1940 as the German army raged across France. His qualities of character were the courage he showed in standing out from the political and military leaders who surrounded him by refusing the proposed armistice with the Germans, and the doggedness he showed in persuading Churchill to allow him the platform he needed to create the Free French Army in London, which became a rallying point for the Resistance and the ultimate participation of the French in defeating the Germans. His qualities of the heart were his strong family ties, the love and affection which he showed in the thick of what was happening around him to his mother and wife and their children, in particular their daughter Anne, who had Down’s syndrome.
The role of De Gaulle is played with authority and sensitivity by Lambert Wilson, who we have seen in films including “Des Hommes et des Dieux” and more recently “Les Traducteurs”. The director is Gabriel Le Bomin, who has been responsible for a number of fine if not mainstream films over the past fifteen years. I am not a historian and I cannot vouch for this film’s one hundred percent accuracy in depicting the events of the time, which have probably been simplified for the storytelling, but De Gaulle has the ring of truth and I don’t think we are far from it.
It is a good film, especially for those with a particular interest in contemporary history or the Second World War. It’s in French of course, but I don’t think De Gaulle would have wanted it any other way.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.