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Not French after all

Dave Barry, of all people, links to this delightful news report of a surprising French legal judgement to the effect that a very French film indeed, called A Very Long Engagement, is not actually French.

The film was made with the help of state funds from France’s National Centre for Cinematography. In its decision, the court said that 2003 Productions was a Trojan horse, a company founded by Warner Bros. “to benefit from financial help even though [the fund] is reserved for the European cinematographic industry.”

So, a Trojan film. Sneaky people, those Trojans.

Jeunet is known in North America as the filmmaker behind 1997’s Alien Resurrection and 2001’s Amélie.

A man with previous, perpetrating popular movies.

French actress Audrey Tautou, who played the title role in Amélie, also stars in A Very Long Engagement.

And we all know that Amélie was so good it is not even put in the foreign language racks at Blockbuster. That was not a French film either. It was a film.

“This film, which tells a French story, adapted from a French novel, filmed entirely in France, in French, with the participation of more than 2,000 French people, over thirty French actors and actresses and about 500 French technicians for 18 months, is suddenly no longer considered a French film!” 2003 Productions said in a press release.

The good news is that, assuming I understand this petit contretemps (if contretemps is a girl that should be petite) correctly, this means that this movie will not be getting French government money. Which is nice. This being the case, I feel sure that I speak for us all here at samizdata.net when I say that there ought not to be any French films at all.

Yes, that assumption is correct. Here is confirmation of that, from comingsoon.net, which they got from Variety:

A Paris court has ruled that director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement is really a Hollywood movie, and therefore not sufficiently French to qualify for public subsidies …

If foreigners, British foreigners especially, continue buying up French real estate maybe it will eventually be decided that France is not French either.

17 comments to Not French after all

  • polltroll


    Bush comment steals show. Bush thanked the hospitable Canadians for waving at him “with all five fingers.”

  • Brother Dave Thompson

    Alien Resurrection was not a popular movie.

  • Errol

    Did you know that Return of the King was a German film? The NZ tax arrangements used for the first 2 LotR films weren’t available for the third.


  • I actually like French movies. I don’t like the French, though…

  • Alan Peakall

    IIRC, Captain Mainwaring of the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army was given the line:

    I love everything French, except the French.

  • Bryan Adams is not regarded as Canadian. All Canadian Radio stations must play a certain percentage of Canadian music. Unfortunately Canada’s most successful music act of all time doesn’t count. Problem is he is too much like an American act for the censors liking.

  • Rhukatah

    [evil dialect]Zee Evil American plot continues. Verst vee bombard zem viss our vilms, zen vee zubvert zear vilms. ziss vill end in zee destruction of zee franche vilm industry and the vorld vill be zubjected to zee trash from ‘ollyvood. Avder vich, zey vill not ‘ave zee vill to resist.[/evil dialect]

    Seriously, Do the french courts have nothing better to do with their time?

  • Jacob

    Seems the most interesting French politician, and the least awfull, the one who, according to pundits, has the best shot at the presidency (in 2007) is Nicolas Sarkozy, and he also, isn’t French.

  • Matt

    A Very Long Engagement was funded, start to finish, by Warner Brothers. The French want to offer subsidies to French production companies; this case has nothing to do with French cultural snobbiness, it’s a trade issue. Warner created 2003 Productions, a front company, to get some of that French money; here’s Variety the day 2003 Productions was created:

    “Attempting to go where no U.S. major has gone before, Warner Bros. is setting up a French-led production house to tap into Gallic state subsidies.”

    This ran two days after funding for AVLE was officially announced. The head of 2003 Productions also headed Warner France.

    Hate the French all you want, but don’t make this case something it isn’t. Warner gamed the system and the French called them on it.

  • Rebecca

    France is already not French. It is Eurabian.

  • Amelie is in the foreign section rack of the Blockbuster video store in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, USA.

  • Anointiata Delenda Est

    Commentators, commentators

    Think libertarian!

    The best way to eliminate state subsidies is to USE them. When the dosh is gone, it’s less state.

    Well done Warner Bros. Yet again, good ol’ US of A capitalism to the rescue of the French – nearly.

    Tsk tsk, the French WILL appreciate it.


  • Sylvain Galineau

    People, I’m afraid you’re missing the boat here.

    What the court is really saying is : this movie looks like it’s going to be freakin’ successful. Since almost no French movie ever is, 1) the odds of this movie being French are next to zero and 2) we want to make it official that it isn’t French so as to eliminate any confusion and facilitate its promotion in the rest of the world.

  • [i]”…maybe it will eventually be decided that France is not French either.”[/i]

    Come the day, Brian, come the day.

  • Gary Gunnels

    Oh yes, mindless France bashing. About as interesting as mindless America bashing.

    Sylvain Galineau,

    Probably depends on what you mean by success. Not many French films get a lot of screen time in the U.S. (or other places outside of the French speaking world), but they rent and sell robustly on video and DVD, which is why films like East, West, Delicatessen, the tri-color movies, etc., have been so popular here in the U.S.


    Yeah, Amelie (after it left the “new rental” area) sits safely in the “foreign” section in Hollywood Video in West Lebanon, N.H.


    Sarkozy is an interesting fellow and should be good for France, especially if he can reform things like their certification laws, increase the number of legal working hours, etc. And he is French; his parents were born in Hungary however. Given that only one in three Frenchmen have parents who are more than third generation Frenchmen it seems rather strange that you do not realize how much of an immigrant society France is and has been (indeed, its unique for Europe in that in-migration has swamped out-migration since the eighteenth century – surely a sign of its success).


    France is already not French. It is Eurabian.

    Are you a bigot? Do you disfavor the traditionally libertarian notion of open borders? Do you not understand that the solution to the middle east’s problems is by infecting it with Western liberal values via the immigrants who come to the West?

  • andy

    Gary, calm down. While in your world the arabs coming to the West are magically transformed into modern, rational-thinking people who then return to their homelands and spread liberal values like fairy dust, the reality is that most Arabs coming here are isolated and grow to hate us even more. They come here not because they love our values, but because they love our riches. Their countries have nothing but stagnant shitholes for economies and they want in on a little of the wealth that they feel has been taken from them by us, oblivious to the fact that their own fucked up values have impided their ability to grow (remember, they don’t even allow women to work, really).

    Not that there’s not exceptions, I’m just stating the rule.