Commemorate the storming of the Bastille, a fortress used to hold political prisoners in Paris on July 14, 1789, sparking the beginning of the French revolution with a selection of groundbreaking French films.
Much like the 4th July and the celebration of independence in the United States, the French national holiday commonly known as Bastille Day is a monumental moment in the history books. The French National Day is the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, a major event of the French Revolution, as well as the Fête de la Fédération that celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790. Celebrations take place across the country including “the oldest and largest military parade in Europe” held on the Champs-Élysées in Paris in front of the President of the Republic, along with other French officials and foreign guests.
To honor the occasion, take the next hour to browse the spectacle from the big screen from Brigitte Bardot to Audrey Tatou and catch up on these cult classic French films boasting cinematic excellence.
1. Amélie (2001)
The 2001 romantic comedy film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet narrates a whimsical depiction of contemporary Parisian life, set in Montmartre. It follows the story of a shy waitress, played by leading actress Audrey Tautou, who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better while struggling with her own isolation in pursuit of true love.
2. The Intouchables (2011)
Played by François Cluzet, the Parisian aristocrat Philippe hires a young man, played by Omar Sy to be a live-in caretaker. Quadriplegic since a paragliding accident, the film follows the unlikely bond that grows between two characters in a heartfelt tableau based on a true story.
3. La Grande Illusion (1937)
Considered a timeless French classic, a group of French soldiers, from Captain de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay) and the working-class Lieutenant Maréchal (Jean Gabin), contemplate with their own class differences after being captured and held in a World War I German prison camp. Orson Welles famously said: “If I had to save only one film in the world it would be La Grande Illusion.”
4. La Vie en Rose (2007)
In this renowned biographical film, Marion Cotillard plays the infamous Edith Piaf, who follows a pathway from poverty to global stardom. Raised by her grandmother in a brothel, Piaf was first discovered while singing on a street corner at the age of 19 yet despite her worldwide success, Piaf’s life was filled with tragedy.
5. Contempt (1963)
A philistine in the art film world, Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance) is a producer unsastified with the work of his director. Prokosch has hired Fritz Lang to direct an adaptation of “The Odyssey,” and part of his success stems from the assistance of screenwriter (Michel Piccoli) to brings to life the script. However, the professional meets the personal when a rift develops between the writer and his wife (Brigitte Bardot).