The Princess of Montpensier, Tavernier’s historical journey

Le réalisateur Bertrand Tavernier.

Absent from the Competition since 1990, Bertrand Tavernier is back before the Feature Film Jury with a dramatic film set in the sixteenth century (Grand Théâtre Lumière, 8:30, 15:00, 19:00) that showcases some of the most promising French actors of the new generation.

It has been twenty years since the Festival de Cannes welcomed a film by Bertrand Tavernier in the selection for the Palme d’Or. It feels like an eternity since Daddy Nostalgie, his last feature film was in Competition in 1990.
With The Princess of Montpensier, an adaptation of a story written by Madame de La Fayette, Bertrand Tavernier reconnects with a long period in his film career that was devoted to exploring historical contexts: the history of Colonial Africa (Coup de torchon, 1980), the Hundred Years’ War (La passion Béatrice, 1987), the First World War (La Vie et rien d’autre, 1989, and Capitaine Conan, 1996), or the war in Algeria (La Guerre sans nom, 1991).
“I wanted to immerse myself in the sixteenth century of the Princess and take it in completely, really enter into this era like I did for James Lee Burke’s Louisiana,” the director explains, alluding to his previous film, Dans la brume électrique (2009).
This new feature film, which deals with the intense rivalry between the suitors to a rich heiress of the realm, features Lambert Wilson and some of the most talented representatives of the new generation of French actors. So, Mélanie Thierry (Le Dernier pour la route, 2009) is courted by Gaspard Ulliel, (Un barrage contre le Pacifique, 2009), Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet (L’armée du crime, 2009), and Raphaël Personaz (Rose et Noir, 2009).
“I admired them. I watched them. They inspired me, moved me, resonated with me,” Bertrand Tavernier says of his actors. “I tried to create a space around them where they would be comfortable and feel like they were contemporaries of the period.”