Sunday, February 19, 2006

THE LAST MITTERAND - fascinating, but only for politicos

New to Region 2 DVD is an interesting film from socialist-realist French director, Robert Gu├ędiguian. The film is based on a series of interviews conducted by a young journalist with the French President, Francois Mitterand. The film is largely a discourse and reflection upon the "meaning" of Mitterand, and indeed of French political history since before World War Two. As its lynchpin, the film is well served by the actor Michel Bouquet, whose physical recreation of the President is a marvel. The approach that the film takes is to explore the contradictions and frustrations surrounding Mitterand rather than to provide any answers. So, the controversies surrounding Mitterand's record during the Vichy regime; his betrayal of the right, and then of the left; the discovery of his love-child; are touched upon. Mitterand is evasive, enigmatic. Approaching death he justifies the French social-economic model and his own war record. "The Vichy government was not France", he says. The interviewer pushes him but with little success. It is a fascinating exercise for all those interested in recent political history, as I am. However, I wonder how far those with less than passing interest will find it. The sub-plot concerning the disintegrating family life of the interviewer is rather flimsy: this really is a one-man show. So, a bi-polar review: if you love politics, watch the film, but if you don't don't.

THE LAST MITTERAND/Le Promeneur du Champ de Mars premiered at Berlin in 2005. It is now available on Region 2 DVD.

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