Skip to main content

Ceux de 14 reaches the screen


In a previous post, I mentioned that preparations were under way to adapt Maurice Genevoix's novel Ceux de 14 for television. The novel has now been adapted into six 52-minute episodes, the first of which is to be broadcast on France 3 on 28 October. Those of us who cannot receive France 3 will have to wait until it appears on TV5 Monde (channel 796 on your Sky box, but Freeview watchers are doomed to disappointment). The good news is that it starts on 3 November at 1835 (other times in other continents), according to TV5's website.

The French Allociné site tries to tempt you with the idea that the series will be a French Band of Brothers. In the way of internet comments section everywhere, a number of public comments laugh at the idea - whoever heard of positive comments on a webpage?

Certainly, the novel relies on a single point of view - it's Genevoix who tells the story - rather than the multiple points of the US series, so the two are not directly comparable. The footage of individual veterans used at the start of each Band of Brothers episode also gave that series an emotional impact that Ceux de 14 cannot possibly have, since Genevoix and his comrades are all long in their graves. But the idea of following a small group of soldiers through the conflict holds good. In an article in Le Monde, the director Olivier Chatzky insists, 'With Genevoix's pen, each soldier is an individual, each portrait complete. There is a dignity in his writing, and throughout this project, it has almost been a public service to counter the cliche of the mass anonymity of the conflict. In this series, we follow a small group of lads under the orders of the young sous-lieutenant Genevoix.'

A short trailer is available here; a slightly longer one here. A Youtube clip here depicts a combat from early in the conflict. A large number of stills are shown on the Centenaire 14-18 website here.


Théo Frilet (on the left), the actor who plays Genevoix (on the right), received the best newcomer prize at the Luchon Festival 2014 for his role. I think the former's moustache perhaps needs a little work ...

Much of the series was filmed in the east of France, around Thierville-sur-Meuse. Stories charting the creation of the series, taken from the local newspaper, the Est-Republicain, are linked to from the Verdun-Meuse website here.

Illustrations: the top picture and that of Frilet both come from the Séries Mania website; the photo of actors and crew came from the Le Monde article; the book cover a webfind; the photo of Genevoix from the excellent Ceux de 14 blog, which contains many articles and much information about the author and his writing career.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kings of the Air: A Matter of Reputation

When dealing with the history of the development of the French Air Force before and during the Great War, you cannot go far without coming across the name of Charles Tricornet de Rose. A dragoons officer, he was the first man to get his military wings. He was immediately snapped up to work at Estienne's research establishment at Vincennes, where he worked on aircraft armament (even though the Minister of War thought it a waste of time), coming to the conclusion that the gun had to placed in the nose, firing forwards. The problem was the firing through the arc of the propellor, and, with Roland Garros, he was working on a synchronizer system when war broke out. 
Garros went his own way, towards the dead end that were his deflector plates. Meanwhile, de Rose, the commander of Fifth Army's aviation, created the first all-fighter squadron, MS12, and filled it with the best pilots he could lay his hands on, including Jean Navarre. Until a viable synchronizer system was worked out,…

Napoleon's soldiers

Following my previous posts on newly digitized French military archives here and here, there has been another release of personal records from French military archives, but this time from the Napoleonic period.
The archives are those from groups GR 20 YC and GR 21 YC at the Service Historique at Vincennes (here). GR 20 YC is the register of recruits of the Garde Consulaire, the Garde Impériale, and the Garde Royale, for the period 1802-15, and includes all arms - infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers, train des équipages, administration section and gendarmes d’ordonnance. Or so the accompanying text says. If you actually look at the individual registers, those of the Guard infantry actually start in 1799.
GR 21 YC covers similar records over the same period for the line infantry, from the 1er to the 156e Regiments.
So, click on the Faire une recherche button. This takes you to a data entry screen. You can search by keyword, archive piece number, arm of service, type of unit, or uni…

Ceux de 14 - the critics speak!

With the first episodes of Ceux de 14 having been broadcast on France 3 earlier this week, the critics have now had their say.
Télé-Loisirs: 'a good reconstruction of war', but overall the cast 'was rather wooden'; on the other hand Théo Frilet, as Genevoix was 'convincing'. Overall: Very Good
Télé 2 Semaines: 'convincing casting', but also thought they were 'rather wooden'. Overall: Quite Good
Télé Z: 'we lived, suffered and wept with these soldiers serving during the Great War'. Overall: Excellent
Télé Poche: 'faithful to the original book'. Overall: Good
TV Grandes Chaines: 'a bold production' with 'convincing actors'. Overall: Very Good.
Télé 7 Jours: 'the series is a noteworthy tribute to a generation that was sacrificed', played by 'outstanding actors'. Overall: Good
Télé Star: Overall: Good
So ... 'could be better' by the sound of things; but likewise, could be a lot worse (and we've s…