The Tiger and the President: how André Dussollier became Georges Clemenceau?

In theaters since Wednesday, The Tiger and the President is a political comedy that looks back on a singular episode of the Third Republic. Back, among other things, on the transformation of André Dussollier.

The Tiger and the President by Jean-Marc Peyrefitte

With Jacques Gamblin, Andre Dussollier, Christian Hecq

What is it about ? 1920, the Roaring Twenties. Georges Clemenceau has just lost the presidential election to the unknown Paul Deschanel, an idealist who wants to change the country. But one evening the latter falls from a train and vanishes. In the early morning, France is looking for its president, a golden opportunity for Tiger Clemenceau…

Historical context

The Tiger and the President how Andre Dussollier became Georges
Tandem Movies

The Tiger and the President looks back at the election of Paul Deschanel in 1920, who won the Presidential elections against the favorite Georges Clemenceau. Victim of an anxiety-depressive state and Elpénor syndrome, he fell from a night train in May 1920. Following the many rumors circulating about him and because of his declining health, Deschanel resigned from the Elysium.

A historical fiction

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Tandem Movies

The film announces from the beginning that it is inspired by real events and the director admits having imagined certain elements of the film: “We are part of the great tradition of the “historical novel”, which, according to its definition, “takes for a (sometimes major) episode in history, in which it generally mixes real and fictional events and characters”.

The finest example of historical fiction in cinema according to Jean-Marc Peyrefitte is Amadeus of Milos Forman. “The theme of reality and its more or less voluntary diversion is also part of this story. In the three existing biographies of Paul Deschanel, it happens that there are as many versions of the same event […]”. The fictional elements were notably added to reinforce the rivalry between Deschanel and Clemenceau. For example, the Council of Ministers scene where Deschanel dismisses a member of his government is fictitious, as is the one where Clemenceau advises the Véronal to Germaine Deschanel.

Shooting at the Élysée

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Tandem Movies

For the interiors of the Élysée, the team had access to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and for the exteriors, to the Élysée itself. The Parliament scenes were filmed at the Congress of Versailles. The brothel was filmed at the Quai d’Orsay, in the Art Deco bathrooms specially reserved for the King and Queen of England when they visit Paris. “It was already impressive to have the chance to shoot in the gardens of the Élysée. So when, in the early morning, we shot the scene of Deschanel running after the leaves of his flying speech, my legs were shaking so much it was surreal”, recalls the director.

In the skin of Clemenceau

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The team miraculously found the 45 seconds of a film shot by an American team of an interview with Goerges Clemenceau in his house in Saint-Vincent-sur-Jard, in Vendée. This is the only known archive where we hear his voice. Andre Dussollier was able to draw inspiration from these images for his interpretation: “He appears very impatient, speaks without precaution to his interlocutors. I was inspired by them for his gait, his postures, and I imbibed them like a blotter to recreate Clemenceau. When you understand the psychology and the way of being of a character, you can develop it in all the situations with which it is confronted.

As for the physical transformation, the actor spent three hours every morning in the hands of the make-up team with Pierre-Olivier Persinsays Pop, who created the prostheses, accompanied by Magali Ohlmann and Vanessa Ricolleau.

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