Exploring the Character: Lambert Wilson's Transformation Into De Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle Square and the Arc de Triomphe Photo by danilo.alvesd on Unsplash
Charles de Gaulle Square and the Arc de Triomphe Photo by danilo.alvesd on Unsplash

Charles de Gaulle, France's hero of WWII, is an iconic and revered figure in French history that French cinema [Click on "Lire la suite" to read Exploring the Character: Lambert Wilson's Transformation Into De Gaulle]

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Charles de Gaulle Square and the Arc de Triomphe Photo by danilo.alvesd on Unsplash

Charles de Gaulle, France's hero of WWII, is an iconic and revered figure in French history that French cinema wouldn't dare touch... Until Gabriel Le Bomin's biopic "De Gaulle". The French movie released in 2020 explores the tumultuous events leading up to France's liberation from Nazi occupation during WWII, and the central role played by Charles de Gaulle. Lambert Wilson took the risk of portraying the legendary French statesman. Let's take a look at the behind-the-scenes of the movie and how it was perceived by the French audience and press.

Where to watch Lambert Wilson’s films?

Part George Clooney, part Colin Firth, Lambert Wilson was France's heartthrob before becoming one of the most respected French actor of his time. Box-office comedies, indie drama, Hollywood Blockbusters like The Matrix Reloaded; he's done it all. So where can you watch his French movies and many more? TV5MONDE of course, the only French-language network available in America! With a TV5MONDE subscription, you will also get access to the French streaming platform TV5MONDEplus which boasts the largest selection of French-language movies and TV shows in America.

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Lambert Wilson's portrayal of Charles de Gaulle

His name might ring a bell to some Americans. Maybe for some of his famous roles in French classics but most likely for Lambert Wilson's cult character in the Matrix franchise (Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, Matrix Resurrections). Wilson's interpretation of such a significant political figure like De Gaulle was a challenging one, but the French actor did an excellent job in bringing the French leader to life. The character is a dynamic and multi-dimensional one, and Wilson delivered a convincing performance with nuance and depth.

The biopic "De Gaulle" explored a historical event in France's history - the liberation of Paris and France from the Nazi occupation - and examined the intricacies of de Gaulle's persona, mission, and leadership. Lambert Wilson played the role of de Gaulle with a formidable performance that illustrated the character's complex personality. Wilson's portrayal of de Gaulle was a study in his disciplined and dignified nature, his pride in France's culture, and his vision for the country's future.

Wilson is a highly talented and respected actor, and his portrayal of de Gaulle demonstrated his commitment to bringing historical figures to life with depth and sensitivity. It's far from the first time he was the lead of a biopic. Lambert Wilson had previously been l'Abbé Pierre in "Hiver 54", and Jacques Cousteau in "The Odyssey" ("L'odyssée").

In preparing for the role, Wilson went to great lengths to understand the persona of de Gaulle. He studied de Gaulle's voice, mannerisms, and demeanor to accurately represent the character. Wilson put in a massive amount of effort and worked with dialect coaches to learn the differences in intonation, cadence, and enunciation unique to de Gaulle. His attention to detail is evident in his performance, which captures de Gaulle's charisma, voice, and, most importantly, his vision for France's future.

The cultural relevance and impact of the movie "De Gaulle."

The release of "De Gaulle" in 2020 came at a crucial time for France: the country was grappling with several significant issues, a rise in extremism, and social topics that were dividing the country. But if there's one historical figure that everyone can agree on, it's Le General. In that regard, the movie was a stirring reminder of France's historical resilience and its ability to overcome adverse events. The film resonated with the French audience and served as a reminder of the indivisibility of the country.

One of the essential themes of the movie is national unity, and the movie's success is attributable to its ability to tap into the French psyche and the continuous struggle for cultural and national preservation in the midst of global change.

The movie encourages viewers to think more deeply about what it means to be patriotic and how de Gaulle's legacy has influenced the country's sense of national identity. This is particularly relevant considering the ongoing debates on nationalism, identity, and the role of France in contemporary European politics.

How was the movie "De Gaulle" received in France?

The majority of the French public and critics appreciated the movie's cinematography and Lambert Wilson's portrayal of de Gaulle. The film's attention to detail, accuracy in historical representation, and the masterful way that Wilson brings the character to life are just a few of the aspects that impressed both audiences and critics alike.

Read more: 10 movies with Lambert Wilson to watch

The film's most significant achievements was its ability to touch on the complexities of leadership and political ideologies and its portrayal of an iconic French figure. The portrayal of the French general as a flesh-and-blood character, rather than a myth, added depth and nuance to the character. Gabriel Le Bomin's film provided a unique glimpse into the personal and professional life of one of France's most enduring and charismatic leaders.

"De Gaulle" was highly anticipated in France, and the public's response to the film has been overwhelmingly positive. This is in line with the movie's critical reception, which was also excellent. The film's cinematic and artistic qualities have garnered mainly favorable reviews from film critics worldwide. According to Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates professional reviews, the movie has a 76% rating, which speaks to the film's authenticity, and accuracy. It is worth highlighting that these reviews echo the general sentiment that the movie has a solid story, a top-tier cast, and excellent cinematography.

Lambert Wilson's performance, as already noted, was a standout feature of the movie, and critics responded positively to his portrayal of Charles de Gaulle. Wilson's ability to embody the character's charm, discipline, and drive is something that critics had high praise for.

Read more: From France to Hollywood: The Inspiring Journey of Lambert Wilson

The historical accuracy in the movie

Accuracy in historical representation is vital to the success of any movie based on real events, and "De Gaulle" is no different. You can't just invent events around the Armistice, Winston Churchill (British actor Tim Hudson, in the movie), Philippe Pétain (played by the charismatic Philippe Laudenbach in the movie), Paul Reynaud, the Maginot Line or Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. The director Gabriel le Bomin went to great lengths to ensure that the movie accurately portrayed the complexity of WWII as it relates to France. Additionally, Gabriel le Bomin enlisted historians and experts to provide consultation to ensure historical accuracy. The result is a movie that not only honors Charles de Gaulle's legacy, his wife's Yvonne De Gaulle (Isabelle Carré in the movie) but also reflects the political and social climate of WWII accurately.

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