Movie review / ‘De Gaulle’ (M)

Share Canberra's trusted news:
Lambert Wilson as Charles de Gaulle speaking on the BBC… the speech was a formative moment of the French Resistance.

“De Gaulle” (M) *** and a half

ON June 18, 1940, the BBC provided four minutes of airtime for French general Charles de Gaulle to address the people of France. 

De Gaulle had recently been promoted to brigadier general and named as Under-Secretary of State for National Defence and War by Prime Minister Paul Reynaud during the German invasion of France.

There had been no advance notice of the broadcast (nor was it recorded) and few French citizens living in England heard it – at that time, few Frenchmen had heard of him. 

Nevertheless, history regards the speech as a formative moment of the French Resistance that gave the occupying Germans so much discomfort until they went home four years later. 

Its fabric embraces the political ructions in Paris that saw de Gaulle confronting defeatists Marechal Petain and, to some extent, Gen Weygand. 

Its immediate fallout was on August 2, 1940, when a French military court tried and sentenced him in absentia to death, deprivation of military rank, and confiscation of property.

Short of a brief coda telling about how Charles was reunited with his wife Yvonne and their children after a hazardous escape in the only one of three ships carrying refugees that left Brest on the same day that reached safety in a British port, that speech and the savage sentence form the climax of writer/director Gabriel Le Bomin’s film. 

The film rightly sees Churchill’s wartime relationship with de Gaulle as understanding and helpful (sadly, the words of actor Tim Hudson’s portrayal of Churchill are more convincing than the physical resemblance.)

I found the film profoundly interesting. As long as I can remember, I perceived de Gaulle as a pebble in the shoe of Anglo/French relationships. Lambert Wilson plays him with admirable conviction. As Yvonne, Isabelle Carré confronts adversity with great fortitude, not the least of which is her youngest child, 12-year-old Anne, born with Down syndrome. Playing Anne, Clémence Hittin is great. At the time covered by the film, Anne had only another eight years to live.

Being French or familiar with the history of those four months isn’t a prerequisite to finding “De Gaulle” satisfying, even rewarding.

At Palace Electric

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

"De Gaulle" (M) *** and a half
Previous articlePlay asks, ‘What if scientists ruled the world?’
Next articlePolice catch out offending hoons on social media
Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

Leave a Reply