Best French Films Home Page

Best French Films Ever.
Top rated French Movies: popular, classic, famous "must watch" Cinema Fançais

19. La Controverse de Valladolid

Best French Films Home Page
 

 

 


Search Best French Films website for keyword(s)

A masterpiece, dealing with a subject which was once of great interest but which seems remote and bizarre to modern western minds.

The film opens with Dominican and Franciscan friars filing into a church, along with a Cardinal (Jean Carmet). But this is not any church. It is the Franciscan friary church at Valladolid, the capital of Spain in 1550 when this film is set.

The friars are not just here to pray. They are here to participate in the Controverse de Valladolid, one of the most significant debates in the history of western Christendom. Presiding is the cardinal who is also a papal legate.

The debate is being held to determine whether American Indians possess human souls. In other words to decide whether they are human or animal. The decision will determine how native American peoples will be treated by the Catholic world.

On one side of the nave is a Dominican, Bartolomé de las Casas (Jean-Pierre Marielle). He has lived in Mexico, and is haunted by the horrors he witnessed there. Facing him is Ginèse de Sepúlveda (Jean-Louis Trintignant) a skilled Aristotelian philosopher. He puts the case that American Indians are less than human, that they cannot reason or understand the One True Religion, and that they do not posses human instincts or emotions. Hence they can legitimately be killed or used as beasts of burden.

This is a serious heavy-wieght battle between two sincere articulate men. The tension between them is palpable.

Gradually, we are drawn into their battle, and start to understand their positions. The movie cleverly takes us out of our modern certainties to a time when this was a genuine pressing question and the overwhelming majority of Christians did not share the views of modern Europeans. Of course, now we all think we know the answer to the question of whether native American peoples are human, but how much closer are we to defining what it is that makes a human being a human being ? When we come to think about it we tend to revisit ground familiar to Bartolomé de las Casas and Ginèse de Sepúlveda: Is it our intelligence that makes us human ? Or is it our physical form ? Or language ? Or sense of humour ? Or technology ? Or beliefs and practices?

All of the action of the film takes place in the Fransiscan friary, and almost all of it in the Church. Despite this, the action is vivid and rivetting. There is even humour and some clever twists - as when a pagan idol, specially shipped from Mexico, is brought into the church to prove a point.

Incidentally, this film was made as a movie for a French TV channel. It is based on real arguments from the period. This debate is not a genuine historical event - at least in the way it is shown in the film. Rather, the arguments between the two protagonists were conducted in the form of books and letters.

The film is based on a book of the same name by Jean-Claude Carrière, who points out that although the debate is invented, the arguments are taken from contemporary documents - even much of the phraseology. Accounts of Bartolomé de las Casas's time in the Americas are taken from a history written by the real, sixteenth century Bartolomé de las Casas. He had been a bishop in Mexico and personally witnesed the horrors that he recorded in his history, and that his character relates in this movie. Ginèse de Sepúlveda was a cannon at Cordova, the author of Democrates alter, sive de justice belli causis justifying the conquest and enslavement of the American Indians.

Details of the book (in French) are available below:

Genre: Historical Drama
Year:
1992
Runtime:
90 min
Country: France
Director: Jean-Daniel Verhaeghe
Writing credits: Jean-Claude Carrière
Produced by:
Céline Baruch — executive producer
Iris Carrière — producer
Hervé Lavayssière — supervising producer
Albert Roguenant — associate producer
Original Music: ???
Non-Original Music: ???
Cinematography: Gérard Vigneron
Colour: Colour
Sound Mix: Dolby

Cast
Jean-Pierre Marielle — Bartolomé de las Casas
Jean-Louis Trintignant — Ginèse de Sepúlveda
Jean Carmet — Le Légat du Pape
Jean-Michel Dupuis — Le Colon
Claude Laugier — Frère Ambrosiano
Pascal Elso — Frère Emiliano
Franck Laigneau — Le jeune moine au claquoir
Michel Charrel — Le deuxième colon
Dominique Noé — Un assesseur du légat
Jean Nehr — Assistant de Las Casas
Didier Bourguignon — Le scribe
Mogan Mehlem — Représentant du Roi
Raymond Aulme — Un dominicain
Jean-Paul Egalon — Le soldat
Emmanuel-Georges Delajoie — L'ouvrier africain
Jean-Luc Orofino — Bouffon "Le Roi"
Salim Talbi — Bouffon "La Reine"
Jean-Eric Allal — Un Civil
Antoine Coesens — Assistant Sépulveda
Lucilla Diaz — L'Indienne
Louis Dedessus Le Moutier — Antipodiste
Enrique Pinedo-Ramirez — L'Indien
Alain Prévost — Bouffon "La Moine"
Punaa Protch — Le Petit Fille






Click here to go to amazon.com   Click here to go to amazon.fr


The titles (in the US) of the best French films, sorted by title


  Title Year
Genre
Director
8 Women2001
Music, Comedy, Crime, Mystery
François Ozon
A Heart in Winter1992
Romance, Drama, Music
Claude Sautet
Beauty and The Beast1946
Fantasy Drama, Romance
Jean Cocteau
Belle de Jour1967
Erotic Drama
Luis Buñuel
Betty Blue1986
Romace, Drama
Jean-Jacques Beineix
Birds Of A Feather1978
Comedy
Edouard Molinaro
Bitter Moon1992
Sado-masochistic Erotic Drama
Roman Polanski
Breathless1960
Drama, Romance
Jean-Luc Godard
Children of Paradise1945
Drama, Romance
Marcel Carne
10 Cyrano de Bergerac1990
Romance, Drama
Jean-Paul Rappeneau
11 Delicatessen1991
Sci-Fi Comedy
Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet
12 Diva1981
Action Thriller, Drama
Jean-Jacques Beineix
13 French Twist1995
Comedy
Josiane Balasko
14 Hidden2005
Drama
Michael Haneke
15 Hiroshima, Mon Amour1959
Romance, Drama
Alain Resnais
16 Jean de Florette1986
Drama, Modernised Greek Tragedy
Claude Berri
17 Jesus of Montreal1989
Drama
Denys Arcand
18 Jules et Jim1961
Romance, Drama
François Truffaut
19 La Controverse de Valladolid1992
History (16thC), Drama
Jean-Daniel Verhaeghe
20 La Femme Nikita1990
Crime, Thriller, Romance, Drama
Luc Besson
21 Manon of the Spring1986
Drama, Romance, modernised Greek Tragedy
Claude Berri
22 Monsieur Hire1989
Crime Thriller, Romance, Drama
Patrice Leconte
23 My Life in Pink1997
Comedy Drama
Alain Berliner
24 One Swallow Brought Spring2001
Comedy, Romance, Drama
Christian Carion
25 Queen Margot1994
History (16thC) Drama, Biography, History, Romance
Patrice Chéreau
26 Ridicule1996
History (18thC) Drama
Patrice Leconte
27 Swimming Pool2003
Psychological Thriller, Mystery Drama
François Ozon
28 The 400 Blows1959
Crime Drama
François Truffaut
29 The Big Blue1988
Drama, Romance
Luc Besson
30 The City of Lost Children1995
Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro
31 The Closet2001
Comedy Drama
Francis Veber
32 The Discrete Charm of the Bougoisie1972
Surreal Black Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Luis Buñuel
33 The Dominici Affair1973
Crime Drama Mystery
Claude Bernard-Aubert
34 The Double Life of Veronique1991
Music, Fantasy, Romance, Psychological Drama
Krzysztof Kieslowski
35 The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain2001
Comedy, Romance, Drama
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
36 The Girl On The Bridge1999
Comedy, Romance, Fantasy, Drama
Patrice Leconte
37 The Hate1995
Crime, Drama
Mathieu Kassovitz
38 The Last Metro1980
Romance, History (WW2) Drama
François Truffaut
39 The Piano Teacher2001
Drama, Music
Michael Haneke
40 The Reader1988
Mildly Erotic Comedy Fantasy
Michel Deville
41 The Return of Martin Guerre1982
History (16thC) Drama, Biography, Crime, Mystery,
Daniel Vigne
42 The Visitors1993
Fantasy, Comedy
Jean-Marie Poiré
43 Three Colors: Blue1993
Drama, Music, Mystery, Romance
Krzysztof Kieslowski
44 Three Colors: Red1994
Drama, Mystery, Romance
Krzysztof Kieslowski
45 Three Colors: White1994
Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Romance
Krzysztof Kieslowski

Sort the best French Films by Title, Year or Director, Select by Genre or search for a Keyword

       
  select country title sort by select genre
 
   
 
       
or
     
 
Search website for keyword(s)
 
 

 
     
     
 
© TFF 2008LinksContact