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why the Puy du Fou film is controversial

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The first feature film produced by the company that manages the Puy du Fou park, “Vaincre ou Die” retraces, in the manner of a docu-fiction, the fight of François-Athanase Charette de La Contrie, known as “Charette”, during the bloody civil war which ravaged the Vendée, from 1793 to 1800. At the head of the royal armies, this general led, for several years, important counter-revolutionary military campaigns against the republican troops, before being shot at Nantes, in 1796.

The production is largely inspired by the spectacle of the Puy du Fou park, “The Last Panache”, and used the sets and the horses to limit its budget to less than five million euros. In 1:55, what was originally supposed to be a documentary finally took on more scope by promising spectacular combat scenes to the glory of the courage of the counter-revolutionaries, “the last ramparts of a royalty of 1 000 years”, as one of its characters declares.

(Photo Christine Tamalet)

Historical controversy

But this film smells of sulfur in the nose of several historians, who, like Guillaume Lancereau, co-author of the book “Le Puy du faux”, (Les Arènes editions), also perceive it as a work of reactionary propaganda. In his eyes, he even carries “an anti-republican, Catholic and royalist vision” of History.

We are artists, what interests us is to make people dream with beautiful universal stories

“These are historical fictions, not history lessons. (…) We have no political line”, assures Nicolas de Villiers, son of Philippe de Villiers, figure of the sovereignist right and support of the far-right candidate, Éric Zemmour, during the presidential election of 2022. The one who took over the reins from his father, at the head of Puy du Fou, explains to Agence France Presse: “We are artists, what interests us is to make people dream with beautiful universal stories. “.

This does not prevent the film from starting with interviews with personalities with a committed profile, presented as specialists of the period mentioned, including the controversial Reynald Secher, ardent defender, through his essays, of the thesis of a “genocide”. Vendée.

Cinema: why the Puy du Fou film is controversial
(Photo Christine Tamalet)

Support from the Bolloré group

In addition, “Vaincre ou Die” is produced “with the support” of Canal + and distributed, in addition to StudioCanal (Vivendi group, controlled by Vincent Bolloré), by Saje, a company specializing in films of Christian inspiration. She had, in particular, promoted the anti-abortion film “Unplanned”, produced by American evangelists and broadcast on C8 (which also belongs to the Bolloré group) in 2021. The elected environmentalists on the Pays-de-la-Loire regional council had also denounced the financial aid of 200,000 euros paid by the Region for the production of this film.

It remains to be seen whether the controversy that accompanies the national release of this feature film will or will not help “Vaincre ou Die” to reach its objective of 100,000 spectators in theaters.

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