The President and Vice President of ADGE were present, at the invitation of Pathé, at the preview of the film Eiffel by Martin Bourboulon, which opened the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival on Tuesday, August 24.
Although our association was not directly involved in the production of the film, we were kept informed of the filming by its producer Vanessa Van Zuylen. At the beginning of the year, following a first private screening, our Board of Directors took the decision to support the film, because of the way he captures the energy of entrepreneur Gustave Eiffel and the very convincing interpretation given by Romain Duris:
This film is for us, descendants of Gustave Eiffel, a very beautiful tribute to our grandfather. Martin Bourboulon and his teams introduce us to a profoundly human man, intelligently reflecting the formidable entrepreneur he was, his proximity to his teams, his audacity. It was this strength of character, made of determination and sensitivity, that enabled Gustave Eiffel to meet the incredible challenge of building the 300-metre Tower, a Tower that still fascinates us today as much as it did in 1889 – Association des Descendants de Gustave Eiffel
This is the message that our President, Myriam Larnaudie-Eiffel, re-exposed on the stage of the Théâtre d’Angoulême just before the screening, in the presence of the film team.
Budgeted at 23 million euros, Eiffel is a project of a rare magnitude for a French film. It also had a very long gestation: the first project was written by Caroline Bongrand twenty years ago, in turn arousing the interest of many directors including Ridley Scott or Luc Besson. In the end, it was the last version, under the leadership of producer Vanessa Van Zuylen and director Martin Bourboulon, who finally convinced the investors with Romain Duris (Gustave Eiffel) and the beautiful Emma Makey (Adrienne Bourgès) in the main roles.
We will insist here on the fact that the film Eiffel is not a biopic but a free adaptation of historical facts, relying on them to «extend and offer», according to the words of its director “as generously as possible the spectacle of a great love story crossed with an adventure film.” If on this level he succeeds very well in keeping his wager, the connoisseurs of the Tour and the descendants of the main protagonists will certainly be shocked by certain omissions or transformations of historical facts: The central role played by Koechlin and Nougier is thus almost obscured, while Adolphe Salles, despite being a polytechnician and a close collaborator of Eiffel, is reduced to a simple humorous figure.
The presupposition of the scenario is that Gustave recreates in 1886 an old love of youth (Adrienne Bourgès) whose parents had previously refused him the hand. In the film, this encounter disrupts their lives and plays an unsuspected role in the construction of the Eiffel Tower.
If there is thus a very large part of fiction in the film, the scenes of construction of the Tower, in particular the systems put in place to balance the four pillars one against the other at the time of the junction of the first floor, or the use of the air-boxescompressed for the foundations of the north and west pillars, are very well reconstituted.
It is also absolutely true that Adrienne Bourgès, daughter of the important merchant who supplied the construction site of the Bordeaux bridge in wood (Gustave Eiffel was the master builder from 1858 to 1860), was an important love of youth for our ancestor. The two young men liked each other and had to marry until Adrienne’s parents, after investigating Gustave’s family background, decided that the young engineer did not have sufficient social status for their daughter, and cancel the wedding at the very last moment. It is also quite true that, despite this unpleasant misadventure, the ties between Eiffel and the Bourgès family were subsequently rekindled: one of his sons, Edouard, married Adrienne’s niece, Marie-Louise.
We look forward to seeing the public welcome for the release of the film, which has been postponed several times due to the health situation and is now set for October 13, 2021.