Suppose Paris is considered the most romantic city in the world (definitely questionable opinion) by most. In that case, it’s sure that from now on we’ll look at its most known tower with very different eyes, thanks to Martin Bourboulan‘s new movie Eiffel, coming to the UK and Irish cinemas on August 12th.
Eiffel, as well as Titanic back in 1997, is a romantic no-history lesson that gives charm, mystery, and romance to one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, and what a better time to shoot it than the year in which the Eiffel Tower turns 130?
The movie opens in September 1886 with Gustave Eiffel recognized by the Honorary Citizen of the USA for having designed the interior structure of Lady Liberty ensuring “that this statue will resist wind and storms, and still be standing in a hundred years”. The success of that project brought the French most influential politicians believing France needed a remarkable landmark to grace their upcoming World’s Fair, something destinated to be taken down 20 years later.
At first, Gustave Eiffel (Romain Duris, Populaire, Heartbreaker, The New Girlfriend) is opposed to taking part in the notice; but the meeting with Adrienne (Emma Mackey, Sex Education, Death on the Nile, Barbie), his love of youth and now his friend’s wife, makes him change his mind about the project…and if you look at the Eiffel Tower carefully, it has the shape of an A, the A of Adrienne indeed.
Eiffel is told in three different periods; from 1860 when Gustave Eiffel meets Adrienne for the first time in Bordeaux while building a bridge to 1889 when, on March 31st, the Eiffel Tower is finally shown to the world.
Duris and Mackey‘s chemistry on screen is extraordinary, and Bourboulon‘s work is brilliant: the love story is always in the shadow of the tower, the main character of the movie; the cinematography and production design are marvelous and the pathos grows hand in hand with the tower, till the top.
But what is it real and what is it not about this story?
Here is what we know from examining documents from the period:
•Gustave Eiffel did indeed share a passionate love relationship with Adrienne Bourgès
while he was building «La Passerelle St-Jean» (the Saint John’s bridge) in Bordeaux. He was
28 and she was 18 at the time.
•A wedding was announced but then canceled by Adrienne’s parents.
•While preparing the Exposition Universelle of 1889, Gustave refuses to take on the metal
tower project proposed by his team of engineers. Despite their insistence, he is not interested.
•Nevertheless, for no apparent reason, he changes his mind and takes on the insane project
of erecting a 300-meter-high tower in the middle of the city, going so far as to mortgage his
assets to see the project through to completion.
The assumption made by the film is that Gustave and Adrienne’s paths crossed again at this
time. Is this fact? Is this fiction?
Since we do know that Gustave and Adrienne did meet one another again since Gustave’s
son, Edouard Eiffel, married Adrienne’s niece, Marie-Louise Bourgès, we can easily imagine
that they could have been reunited in 1886…
We have no way of knowing for certain, but this is the only explanation we could find for
Eiffel’s abrupt change of heart regarding the Tower project.
133 years later the Eiffel Tower continues to dominate Paris, a tribute to the lost love that Gustave Eiffel decides to make eternal by ordering to replace the bolts with rivets “so no one will ever take it down”.
«We, the descendants of Gustave Eiffel, see this film as a beautiful tribute to our ancestor. Martin
Bourboulon and his team have intelligently transferred to the screen a deeply human portrait
of an incredible entrepreneur, audacious and dedicated to the point of working alongside and
together with his builders. It is his strength of character, his determination and sensitivity, that
allowed Gustave Eiffel to meet the incredible challenge of building this 300-meter Tower that is
as beguiling today as it was in 1889.»
Eiffel in UK and Irish cinemas August 12th