- History, Adventure, Biography, Social Issues, and Docu-Drama
No one in recorded history has suffered a fate quite like Gilbert de Lafayette. Once, he was the most famous man in the world; today, few people know who he was or what he accomplished. Ever since he died, there has been a conflict over the meaning of his accomplishments. It is time to re-evaluate his crucial role in the establishment of Americaâ€™s democracy.
Lafayette: The Lost Heroâ€¦
â€¢ Is a historical detective story investigating the questions: Who was the Marquis de Lafayette? Why did he come to America? How did we forget him?
â€¢ Tells the story of the life and legend of an intriguing, neglected, and controversial figure who left France at the age of 19 and fought courageously for the independence of the United States.
â€¢ Rediscovers the untold story of Lafayetteâ€™s wife, Adrienne de Noailles, and an arranged marriage that turned into a great romance and a partnership in revolution.
â€¢ Explores the Enlightenment ideals Lafayette fought for.
- Show treatment
Lafayette: The Lost Hero, tells the story of the Marquis De Lafayette and his quest to bring democracy to America and France. This long-forgotten story is presented through the eyes of Sabine Renault Sabloniere, a 21st century descendant searching for the truth about her ancestor. The film traces the life and legend of this intriguing, neglected, and controversial figure who leaves France at the age of 19 to fight courageously for the independence of the United States. Returning to France, after helping to secure Americaâ€™s victory, Lafayette now risks his life to help start the French Revolution and then struggles in vain to bring democracy to his country by peaceful means. Years later, after being imprisoned for bringing freedom movements to Europe, Russia and South America, he returns, triumphantly, for the fiftieth anniversary of the American revolution -- this country's first great patriotic celebration.
In making "Lafayette: The Lost Hero", I set out to portray a man who not only lived an extraordinary life of adventure and drama, but who recorded that life in an almost unprecedented output of self-examining documentary evidence. Lafayetteâ€™s letters and journals sound as if they could have been written yesterday. His wit and feeling make him emotionally available to us now, two centuries later, in an immediate and engrossing way. These documents became the heart of my film.
No one in recorded history has suffered a fate quite like Lafayette. Once, he was the most famous man in the world; today, few people know who he was or what he accomplished. In his time, Lafayette was hailed as the â€œHero of Two Worlds.â€ He was the subject of worshipful biographies and the only foreigner, ever, to have more than 30 American towns â€“ not to mention streets, squares and parks in almost every city in the US â€“ named in his honor. This naming fad continued for more than a hundred years after his fight for the American cause.
The record strongly indicates that he won his reputation by merit, proving himself courageous in battle and resourceful behind the scenes, advancing the cause of America and forging its crucial alliance with France. Perhaps his most enduring quality was his steadfast support through a long, eventful life, of the core principles of democracy and freedom for everyone: man or woman; Catholic, Protestant or Jew; white, black, or Indian. He stood almost alone among Americaâ€™s founding fathers in understanding the tragic implications of allowing slavery to fester at the core of our republic.
Why then have so many of us forgotten Lafayette? The film takes viewers on a journey to discover the facts about a man whose extraordinary accomplishments have faded from memory.
Our story closely follows Lafayetteâ€™s life, as told in his letters and memoirs, and those of his wife, Adrienne, and his close friend, George Washington. But the narrative is driven by a search, today, by Lafayetteâ€™s descendant, Sabine Renault-Sabloniere. While researching a novel based on his life, she explores key episodes involving Lafayette, Adrienne, and a few other key characters. Some of these scenes are dramatized in the film. Sabineâ€™s own daughters, Adriane and Albane, portray their ancestor, Adrienne de Lafayette (at different ages.) These acted scenes are presented as a film within a film â€“ tableaux accompanied by voice-overs based on the primary sources.
But whenever possible, we break down the â€œfourth wallâ€ â€“ shooting the dramatic scenes from behind the camera, as it were, revealing the lights, actors and crew, that are creating an â€œillusionâ€ of history. Our movie takes advantage of any method available to get closer to a historical â€œtruthâ€ â€“ skewering clichÃ©s and the conventional wisdom to bring the audience closer to a sense of what might really have happened in the past and what it means to us today.
- Running time
- 55 and 56 minutes
- Oren Jacoby ... Producer, Director, Writer
- Prod. Co.
- Storyville Films
- United States
- Years of Production
- Paris & Auvergne, France; Virginia, Pennsylvania, & New York, USA
- Prod. Partners
- The Documentary Group
- Release year
- PBS Home Video, ArtÃ©, WETA - presenting station for PBS
- English & French
- English subtitles for French dialogue
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