(aka "Battle of
Set against a sweeping historical fresque, the epic tale
of a great love story thwarted by fortune and men's will...
In 18th-century Quebec, one dark, misty night,
France Carignan pays a visit to the dying Cure Blondeau. As the young woman
and the old priest discuss their shared past, a story that marked both of
them begins to unfold.
It's 1758, just before England's conquest of French Quebec. When she was
young and defiant, Marie-Loup, France's mother, meets handsome Francois Le
Gardeur in Quebec City's marketplace. Le Gardeur comes from a well-off
family, but he would rather roam and hunt than bask in middle-class
comforts. Marie-Loup, a carpenter's illiterate daughter, knows her way
around a forest, practices herbal medicine and has Native friends. Many of
the locals, particularly a trio of scornful hags, egged on by their
ringleader Hortense, think the girl is a witch.
Francois and Marie-Loup fall in love instantly. Meanwhile, the dashing
woodsman discovers that his recently deceased father engaged in sleazy
dealings with the corrupt Intendant Le Bigot and left behind a financial
mess. More than ever, Francois craves the simple honesty of nature, embodied
for him by Marie-Loup. In contrast, Cure Blondeau admonishes Marie-Loup for
her liberated behaviour, but it's obvious that he too loves the girl in his
miserably repressed way.
Filmed in Canada, France and the UK, this film has the distinction of being
Quebec’s costliest production ever with a $30 million budget.
The Globe and Mail:
"Nouvelle France isn't so much a bad film as a costume drama for
young girls. It's going to get some dreadful reviews -- this is the kind of
movie critics like to make fun of -- but the fact is it's full of good
actors and gorgeous scenery."
"Beaudin has assembled an interesting and camera-friendly cast from both
sides of the Atlantic, and has gone to great pains to recreate the ambiance
of New France circa 1760. But the lush cinematography and treacly-sweet
soundtrack only serve to underline the emptiness of the story itself."
Take One Magazine:
"Determinedly ambitious, Nouvelle France only intermittently comes
alive. As a Montreal journalist put it after its November release, the
reviews of the film could be summed up by the expression, 'Qui trop embrace
real etreint' or 'He who grasps at too much loses everything.' Not only are
veteran director Jean Beaudin and mega-producer Richard Goudreau seeming to
be biting off more than they can collectively chew, Quebec critics
complained that Nouvelle France, which is billed as a 'fresco,' is
far from a sweeping picture of Old Quebec during the time of the Conquest.
While it offers some spectacular vistas conjured up by veteran
cinematographer Louis de Ernsted, it rarely has the grandeur, or the poetic
intensity, of an epic."
Veteran Quebec director Jean Beaudin does a decent job of
bringing the history books to life, and the look of 18th-century Canada and
Europe - from natural vistas to lavish royal courts, open markets and
prisons - is lushly rendered by cinematographer Louis de Ernsted. But the
epic only sporadically achieves the lyrical depth and heft needed for such a
big task. The thin love story groans with overblown melodrama while the most
dramatic moments in Canada's early history - such as the Battle of the
Plains of Abraham - are skipped altogether. The
making of Canada as viewed through a Quebec nationalist lens should leave a
deeper sense of tragedy and historic perspective.
Gerard Depardieu.....Thomas Blondeau
Vincent Perez.....Intendant Le Bigot
Isabel Richer.....Older France Carignan
Tim Roth.....William Pitt
Jason Isaacs......General James Wolfe
Colm Meaney.....Benjamin Franklin
Music by......Patrick Doyle
and Celine Dion
Canadian premiere: November 19, 2004
DVD release: November 7, 2006