France: “Vaincre ou Mourir,” the Critics Hate It, the Public Loves It

March 17, 2023

Released in theaters on January 25, 2023, Vaincre ou Mourir [Vanquish or Die] the Puy du Fou film dedicated to Vendée general François Athanase Charette de La Contrie, sparked a tide of hateful criticism from the politically and religiously correct press. However, according to the AlloCiné site, from January 25 to February 1, more than 107,000 spectators went to see it.

The outlet Télérama's on January 24 gave the following warning: “Vaincre ou Mourir,” a Puy du Fou film so bad that even the royalists will hate it.” The magazine of the self-righteous-who-doubt-of-nothing even added: “This is not a film, but a derivative product.”

“The Puy du Fou theme park is embarking on film production with the big-screen adaptation of one of its star shows, ‘Le Dernier Panache,’ an ode to the glory of the general and Chouan ‘martyr’ François Athanase Charette de La Contrie (1763-1796), played in front of some 12 million spectators since its creation.”

Vaincre ou Mourir was also financed by Studio Canal with the blessing of its big boss, the somewhat rigid Catholic Vincent Bolloré, and is distributed in theaters by Saje, a company specializing in works with Christian content. We could therefore expect a vision that was oriented at least toward the Vendée wars.”

“And from that point of view, at least, we are not disappointed: 'Sus à la Gueuse!' [down with the villains], as the royalists of the time said, then their far-right descendants in the 1930s said to destroy the achievements of the French Revolution.”

Despite this blacklisting, and perhaps because of it, many viewers wanted to see the film and form their own opinion. Such as one AlloCiné correspondent who wrote on January 25: “Reading the prose [of Liberation] made me really want to see it.”

Le Monde on January 25 denounced it as a “historic piece of junk” and deplored a lack of “Hollywood vigor,” forgetting that the film, shot in 18 days and with a budget of 3.5 million euros, did not benefit from the largesse of the producers of American films that “the reference newspaper” obviously appreciates.

On Boulevard Voltaire on January 27, Stéphane Buffetaut, elected from Apremont in the Vendée, recalls some facts and figures that the cancel culture wants people to forget: “The launch of the film Vaincre ou Mourir dedicated to the Chevalier de Charette and to the wars of Vendée has unleashed the vengeful fury of left-wing criticism.”

“That should come as no surprise, because these specialists in historical travesty and Marxist-Leninist revisionism cannot tolerate the general public being shown what the reality of the French Revolution was from the establishment of the Jacobin tyranny.”

“By way of inauguration, the first Republic of the name encouraged the September massacres (September 2 to 7, 1792) where women, children, religious, and prisoners were cut up with savagery. It was necessary to strike terror in those who would have had the inclination to oppose the new regime resulting from the overthrow of the constitutional order. The ‘legal’ Terror was soon to follow.”

The elected representative of the Vendée specifies: “Liberation speaks ironically about ‘bad Republicans’ and ‘good royalists.’ But, in fact, when the Republicans exterminate two hundred thousand people in a few months (men, women, children, and old people), it is permissible to consider that they were very ‘wicked.’ In my own village in the Vendée, one of the infernal columns massacred one hundred and two people.”

“A revolutionary who kept precise notes of the horrors noted: 'The shooting at Apremont took the lives of seventy-five men and twenty-seven women, in all one hundred and two' and added that, among the women, there were ‘three very pretty girls and several pregnant women. They were all shot without reserve.’ Yes, it is indeed quite ‘nasty,’ and this was repeated throughout the Vendée.”

And he expresses the wish that: “The French Republic, which likes to make repentance and which, since 1990, has made the denial of crimes against humanity an offense liable to prosecution, would be well advised, as far as the Vendée is concerned, to apply its own legislation to itself.”

For Causeur magazine of January 31, the cinematographic-ideological criticism against Vaincre ou morir seems to adopt the accents of the public accusers of the revolutionary courts: To see Liberation, Telerama or Le Monde elbowing each other in the same direction, in order to be seen as the one who would spit the strongest and the longest on Vaincre ou morir, has in reality been somewhat enjoyable.

“The treatments are so crude, the criticisms so abject, that the papers are dripping with rabid bile!” Their authors seem to descend in a direct line from the assassins of the Committee of Public Safety or the thousands of executioners who shed the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent French men, women, and children during the Terror, that one could not be more surprised.” And he concludes:

“All in all, it’s logical: if, 230 years after the Revolution, millions of visitors come each year to visit the Parc du Puy du Fou, knowing full well what they will find there, and what flame of memory is kept there, it is in no way astonishing that some madmen still deplore today that the Chouans and the Vendeans were not completely exterminated, and with them, all the brave Frenchmen who rebelled against the bloody revolutionaries.”

After 6 weeks of operation Vaincre ou Mourir has exceeded 300,000 ticket sold.