A film to find this Sunday evening at 9 p.m. on France 2.
After Yves Robert in 1962, these are Yann Samuell and Christophe Barratier who each looked at an adaptation of The War of the Buttons by Louis Pergaud: The War of the Buttons and The New Button War. Two films released in 2011 that fought a real pitched battle both at the box office level – they were released just a few days apart – and behind the scenes.
The War of the Buttons: all about the conflict between the two recent adaptations
Tonight, it is the version of Yann Samuell which is honored in the first part of the evening on France 3. A film carried by Mathilde Seigner, Alain Chabat, Eric Elmosnino and Fred Testot which transposes the famous battle of kids in a village in the South of France in 1960. Back in 10 anecdotes on this family comedy.
A large absent
This is a point on which Yann Samuell and Christophe Barratier are tied. Neither of them managed to win the rights to Yves Robert’s version. Race results: if the two directors were able to tackle the adaptation of The War of the Buttons – the novel is free of rights -, they could not make a remake of the feature film by Yves Robert and therefore had to do without certain mythical dialogues imagined by the director. This is why you will not be entitled to the cult reply this evening: “If I had known, I would not have come.”
The first of the project
If the two new versions of The War of the Buttons went out a week apart, it was Yann Samuell who first had the idea of revisiting this novel by Louis Pergaud. Contacted by producer Marc de Pontavice, the director began work on the project in the summer of 2010 to shoot at the start of 2011. Christophe Barratier, who had dreamed of tackling for years The War of the Buttons, embark on the adventure with Thomas Langmann at the start of the 2010 school year, to also shoot in spring 2011. The project is set up when the producer receives by mail a screenplay for an adaptation signed by an unknown person. A bad script which he does not buy but which gives him the idea to launch this New Button War which he situates in 1944.
Two different points of view
The two films are distinguished by their time (the 1960s for Yann Samuell, 1944 for Christophe Barratier) but also for the public they target. While the first wanted to stick as closely as possible to the spirit of the novel by addressing children as a priority, the second developed a more adult and more historical vision by inserting history into the Second World War.
The trailer for The New War of the Buttons by Christophe Barratier:
A general failure
Pretty good castings, a promotional war, tackles at all costs: the fight was tight between the two adaptations of The War of the Buttons. Even at the box office level, the gap is not huge between the two films. The New Button War attracted a total of 1,528,351 people, while Yann Samuell’s work was acclaimed by 1,425,926 people. Quality level is perfect equality. Both films received the Gérard (ex-aequo) for the worst film of 2012. No reason to flare on both sides.
Yann Samuell a specialist in childhood
See Yann Samuell tackle The War of the Buttons did not surprise everyone who knew him. The director is in fact used to films on the magic of childhood. In 2010, he released The age of Reason with Sophie Marceau, a feature film that shows a fortieth turning over his life after receiving letters she had sent at the age of seven. He also realized Child games, a work that follows Sophie and Julien, two best friends who, from their earliest childhood, set themselves funny, dangerous and sometimes stupid challenges.
The trailer for Child games by Yann Samuell:
Transposition over time
It was in 1960 that Yann Samuell chose to locate his War of the buttons. A decision explained in September 2011 by the principal interested in an interview granted to the Express : “I thought that the heaviness of a historical reconstruction would take precedence over the messages that I wanted to convey and that the public would be obliged to relocate themselves before understanding the transcendence of the characters. (…) I finally decided to locate it in 1957, which is the year that Sputnik was sent into space. We go from an era where man was on the surface of the world to another where the world is crisscrossed with satellites, where information will start to flow. We go from a macho world to a world where we begin to seek parity, and where rock n ‘roll takes precedence over classical culture. “
Women are gaining strength
If Yann Samuell had planned not to make a remake of Yves Robert and to faithfully resume Louis Pergaud’s book, he left on the road several details of the novel, including his “male chauvinism”. “I decided to keep the structure of the novel on which, I add the themes which are specific to me. Some of which, like the position of the woman, upset the adaptation. I put forward very strong female characters , I also separated the characters of the teacher and the priest who were one in the novel, to evoke this broken down social elevator which made that if one was a peasant’s son, one was condemned to become one at his tower“, he explains to L’Express.
To find his young heroes, Yann Samuell saw more than 2,500 children unearthed in the French countryside. The director wanted to get his hands on natural children who were completely at ease in the countryside. All the children in the film sign their first appearance at the cinema there.
Three days for a scene
To recreate the famous scene where the children compete naked, Yann Samuell and his team needed three days of work. They turned in a wheat field with ears high enough to hide the privacy of the youngest.
But what is this film?
If some wondered what was the film screened during the film session organized in the church, here is the answer: these are New Adventures of Robin Hood. A feature film with Errol Flynn produced by Hollywood just after the great turning point taken by the American film industry to adapt to the Code Hays.
The story of The War of the Buttons by Yann Samuell: 1960, a village in the south of France. A gang of boys, aged 7 to 14, led by the intrepid Lebrac, are at war with the children of the neighboring village, their sworn enemies. A merciless war that has lasted for generations. We fight for honor and loyalty and, to win, all means are good. Even, if necessary, fight naked like a worm, or worse, accept help from Lanterne – a girl! – the new recruit of the band, full of panache and ingenuity.
The trailer of the film: