French Language Blog

V for “les Visiteurs” (Revisited) Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

This is not about “V for Vendetta”; it’s about another Sci-Fi classic.

Do you remember watching the trilogy of “Retour vers le Futur (“Back to the Future”) starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, respectively featuring the teenager “Marty McFly” and the savant fou (mad scientist) “Dr. Emmett Brown”?

The main plot of that movie was to have people from notre ère (our era) embark in fantastic adventures that take place throughout des voyages dans le temps (time travels.)

Now, imagine la situation inverse, and wonder what would happen instead if people *from the past* would time-travel into our present era?

That’s exactly what Jean-Marie Poiré‘s 1993 comédie portrays. A movie which has now achieved the status of un film culte (a cult or classic movie.)

Before 1993, the French title “Les Visiteurs” would mainly evoke in people’s mind another work of science fiction, namely the American “hit” Sci-Fi series of 1980’s, also known simply as “V“, about reptilian humanoid aliens -whose favorite meals include birds, mice, and arboreal rodents… vivants de préférence (alive, preferably)- striving to exert complete and unchallenged control over the populations and natural resources of our planet, under the specious pretext of offering technological and scientific development to us, humans –a pretext which of course sounds all too “vamiliar”, a lot like a déja vu of “la mission civilisatrice“:  That good old rengaine (catchphrase), comparable to Rudyard Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden”, so often uttered and reiterated by les colonisateurs, who are -no doubt!- animated by a “noble” and “selfless” motive to help les pauvres “indigènes”… Only this time it’s the “indigènes” of the whole planète terre (planet earth) who pay the high price, in exchange for the “benefits” they perceive from the valuable “mission civilisatrice” initiated by the visiting aliens!
Here is le générique (the intro) of the original series “Vaired on French TV channel M6 (which by the way has made a comeback to ABC in 2009, with Scott Wolf who looks just like the aforementioned Michael J. Fox…)

Coming back to Jean-Marie Poiré’s “Visiteurs” (the movie director who adapted to the big screen the famous play “Le Père Noël est une ordure”), it is now ranked quatrième (fourth) in the entire history of the French box-office, behind “Bienvenu chez les Ch’tis” (2008), “La grande vadrouille” (1966) with Bourvil and comedy genius Louis de Funès, and “Astérix et Obélix : Mission Cléopâtre” (2002.)

Without divulging to you any dévoilements majeurs, or des gâcheurs“, as the Québécois dub them (spoilers), let’s say to those of you who haven’t yet enjoyed watching this classic that the movie essentially follows the adventures of the medieval duo Godefroy De Montmirail, played by Jean Reno, and his fidel serviteur (faithful servant) and at times acolyte (sidekick) Jacouille ‘la Fripouille’ (“Fripouille” in colloquial French means “crook”, or “scoundrel”), played by Christian Clavier, who both originally live in 1123 AD, and then find themselves télétransportés towards the end of the XXe siècle, after being tricked to kill the duc Fulbert de Pouille because of une potion magique concocted by une méchante sorcière… (You know, the type of witches that one would run into in Capucine’s fairytale, for example!)
Here’s a fantastic scene from the beginning of the movie:

And then this one too, boasting a great performance by Valérie Lemercier, which in 1994 earned her a César award(*), the French equivalent of the Oscars.

(*) About les Césars: A small clin d’œil to Papa who just celebrated his birthday: Joyeux Anniversaire Papa ! :`)

Tellement drôle que j’ai envie de le revoir (So funny that I feel like watching it again) !

Quite sadly, the sequel (1998) and the American version (2001) were not as great as the first “Visiteurs, where the onus was shifted on a “humour tarte à la crème” (“slapstick humor”) rather than the original fine and clever subtilités (subtleties) humouristiquesC’est vraiment dommage !

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  1. iman:

    aren’t those people from 1100 still speaking Vulgar Latin or Old French? I wonder if they can communicate with modern French speaker.. 😀

    No, just kidding…This movie must be good, too bad that c’est pas facile de trouver un film francais dans mon pays.

  2. Lyon City Blog:

    I remember the Visiteurs TV series when I was younger. We’ve got a very famous French comic movie called Les visiteurs. It is about people from the Middle-Ages. They come back in the present time and discover how rural France has changed…