Valiant hearts: a true story behind this film with Camille Cottin? – News…

Is the film Cœurs vaillants pure fiction or inspired by characters who really existed? We tell you more about the inspiration of this film with Camille Cottin, directed by Mona Achache.

Film on the background of World War II, Valiant Heartsin cinemas since Wednesday, retraces the odyssey of 6 Jewish children hidden during the war, who left to find refuge where no one thought to go looking for them… in the castle and the park of the Chambord estate, in the middle of the works of hidden art in the Louvre.

Is the story of these children true? What was the inspiration of director Mona Achache, and co-screenwriter with Valérie Zenatti, Jean Cottin, Christophe Offenstein and Anne Berest?

The starting point of this story touches the filmmaker intimately Mona Achachebecause his grandmother (who we see in his previous feature film The Gazelles), was a child in hiding during the war.

She told me her stories of a hidden child. That was my point of connection with this terrible story: I remember her contrasting emotions, between her childhood carelessness and, at the same time, what she restored to me of terror, of horror. I was fascinated by this ambivalence. I said to myself: ‘that’s the power of childhood, it’s to keep this carelessness, this strength, whatever the context’. It’s really a great gateway (to talk about these topics)“, she confides to our microphone.

The first inspiration is Rose Valland, curator at the Jeu de Paume museum and figure of the Resistance

And to add:Looking at history from a child’s perspective forges a historically incomplete narrative. But it is this subjectivity of their gaze that interested me. Emotions are also a great vector of identification. I dreamed of a film that could light the way for viewers, that gives them curiosity and the desire to know more.”

The character embodied precisely by Camille Cottin is also freely inspired by a real historical figure. “The first inspiration was Rose Valland, curator at the Jeu de Paume museum and a figure of the Resistance, known for saving works looted by the Nazis in France. She was otherwise lesbian, free-thinking and emancipated. The character portrayed by Camille Cottin is not, however, that of Rose Valland, even if she guided her construction“, continues Mona Achache in her intentions indicated in the press kit of the film.

Valiant hearts: a true story behind this film with camille cottin? - news...
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Camille Cottin in Valiant Hearts. A character freely inspired by the Resistance, Rose Valland.

It should be noted that Jacques Jaujard, director of the national museums and Pierre Schommer, manager of the Chambord depot also served as inspiration. Until November 1942, the Cher, a river near Chambord, served as the delimitation of the demarcation line and was the closest crossing point to Paris, specifies the press kit.

Even today, of course, we must continue to transmit our stories, alert on all these questions. How to talk about the war to children? How to awaken consciences? I really wanted to make a film for them, with them, at their level. So the starting point is historically true. We arrive in the Château de Chambord with boxes of paintings, which was the case during the war. The castle served as an attic for the works of art of the national museums. Afterwards, the fiction intervenes because these children never arrived in real life. But regardless, there were 60,000 more.”

Moreover, and unfortunately, still today, children are confronted with the horrors of war. From there, it is their gaze that leads to a distortion of reality, it leads to a non-exhaustive way of seeing things, a more sensory perception. Emotions come to them.”

“I didn’t want to make a film that would be a historical reconstruction, which could almost be daunting today for children. I wanted to really connect with their emotions and that was all the work also with the children, and with Camille Cottin. Let’s not look at these characters, these children, like those of yesterday, but as children of today, with today’s emotions“, continues Mona Achache at our microphone.

Valiant hearts: a true story behind this film with camille cottin? - news...
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In the preamble to the film’s press kit, Mona Achache writes: “I would like to thank my grandmother, Suzanne, who in every way was very involved in my life. The stories of his journey as a hidden child were a first lesson for me, a benevolent gateway, full of humanity, before my confrontation with the infinite horror of the Shoah. How to absorb such abjection at that age? I wanted to make a film like a stepping stone for children, a first contact with a horror that they will get to know better later. I would like this film to be a relay like my grandmother was for me, before the more factual, but essential, brutality of history lessons.

Note that this film is dedicated to the grandmother of Mona Achache, who unfortunately died recently and was unable to see the film. “She followed the entire genesis of the project and I discussed with her my desire for art to become its common thread. These children read Tintin, and went to the Louvre, they sing, they write, draw… and when I asked her what she read in 1942, she answered me: “At Cœur Vaillant, nothing is impossible! “, which gave its title to the film.”

Since the filming of the film, the Chateau de Chambord now hosts a room dedicated to this episode of the Second World War with elements of the film’s decor. Work is also in progress so that teachers can use the film to discuss with today’s children the story of those of yesterday.

Finally, it should be noted that a novelization of the novel is available in bookstores: Coeurs vaillants, by Anne Kalicky, a book imagined from the film by Mona Achache.

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