A bag of marbles on France 3: a Nazi banner caused shock in Nice

On the occasion of the broadcast this evening on France 3 of the film Un Sac De Billes, focus on an unusual moment of the shooting: the installation of a Nazi banner on the prefecture of Nice. An event that caused a great stir among passers-by.

Before being adapted to the cinema by Jacques Doillon (1975) then Christian Duguay, A bag of marbles was a novel by Joseph Joffo, published in 1973. It follows the flight of two Jewish brothers in France occupied by the German army between 1941 and 1944.


To stick as closely as possible to the reality of the time, the production of the film with Patrick Bruel installed a huge banner adorned with the Swastika on the Prefectural Palace in the city of Nice.

This decor was chosen to represent the Hotel Excelsior, requisitioned by the Nazis to accommodate the HQ of the anti-Jewish section.

Obviously, the city of Nice had anticipated, informing citizens a few days earlier, in particular through messages on social networks.


At the time of filming, in 2015, the director of the prefect’s cabinet, François-Xavier Lauch, had to explain himself at the microphone of Nice morning :

We had taken all the necessary precautions before this shoot. The city of Nice has been notified, we alerted the population via a post on our Facebook page. We called the Jewish community of Nice to explain the situation.

The installation of the infamous Nazi symbol did not fail to raise questions among the wary residents. Passers-by, however, took this with humor, as these German tourists interviewed by challenges.fr : “I sent the photos to my friends in Germany, they said we’re back!“.

Other Nice people were rather surprised: “People did not know if it was a hoax, a film shoot, a provocation … So, as soon as the two men in charge of unrolling the flag appeared on the roof, the crowd started yelling at them. In the middle of the antique market, the scene obviously aroused a lot of emotion“, recalls a witness, quoted in the local daily.


This event is not an isolated phenomenon. 24 years ago, in 1997, Lyon hosted the filming of Lucie Aubrac, a drama directed by Claude Berri, dedicated to the famous resistance fighter.

The streets and squares were thus covered with Nazi flags, causing a certain shock among the Lyonnais.


Another similar controversy arose around the filming of Michael Bay’s Transformers The Last Knight. To stage this story that crosses the ages, the director is very ambitious. For the purposes of a sequence set in the past, The King of the Blast rents Blenheim Castle in England.

Known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill in 1874, this place is very important to the British. To box the scene, Michael Bay and his team adorned the building with Nazi flags.

Third Reich vehicles and actors dressed as SS soldiers were also present to shoot this sequence set during World War II. This appropriation of the house which saw the birth of the former English Prime Minister did not please the British at all, who took it as a serious lack of respect for this hero of the nation.

The castle, covered with gigantic swastikas, aroused great emotion across the Channel. The palace not only saw the birth of “the Old Lion” who opposed Hitler, but it has also been an iconic symbol of British culture since the 18th century. This is why the veterans notably banged their fists on the table.

The latter strongly expressed their dissatisfaction at seeing this crown jewel disfigured by Nazi iconography. Associations have also denounced a “symbolic lack of respect for the illustrious British Prime Minister.”

“People haven’t had a chance to read our script, and don’t know that Churchill in this movie is a great hero. He would smile about it. When you see the movie, you’ll understand. Personally, I shot more. veterans and active military men or women than any director. You can check. I wouldn’t do anything that disrespects veterans. “, defended Michael Bay on the BBC.

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