March 16th, 2015 / 12 Comments


Berlinale Life Premiere

Update: New interviews will be added to end of posts

So with the article I posted on the weekend that had Brady Corbet telling us that Rob’s not playing Hitler nor Mussolini, we (meaning more so myself and Carmel) started having a discussion about who the character might be seeing as Brady doesn’t want to give away who it is.  We know that Brady and Mona wrote the story themselves and although some have suggested that it’s based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s “The Childhood of A Leader”, if you read the story Lucien’s parents are not American diplomats.  Perhaps the short story influenced them to write their screenplay *shrugs*.  The short summary on IMDbPro says “A look at the childhood life of a post-World War I leader.”  Carmel and I have been going backwards and forward about who it might be.  Is it someone that we all know or is it based on true events with a fictitious character.  I love that Brady has us thinking already before they start filming.  That’s what a good film does way before and way after you’ve watched it.  So here’s what snippets we have so far from Brady:

Protagonist Pictures:

“This chilling fable about the rise of fascism in the 20th Century tells the story of a young American boy living in France in 1918 whose father is working for the US government on the creation of the Treaty of Versailles. What he witnesses helps to mould his beliefs – and we witness the birth of a terrifying ego.

Loosely inspired by the early childhood experiences of many of the great dictators of the 20th Century and infused with the same sense of dread as The Others and The Omen, The Childhood of a Leader is an ominous portrait of emerging evil.

Indiewire:

“The film takes place in 1919, it stars a child, it’s in French and English. Luckily it’s not going to be four-and-a-half hours long and it’s not going to be black-and-white. But that’s it. It’s not a very easy pitch. It’s sort of about the birth of a megalomaniac and with a maniacal sort of ego at the turn of the century. It’s about the birth of fascism that occurred during the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. …

I have intentionally not revealed the identity of the character. And it’s a funny thing because it’s not for the reasons that people think. One thing I will happily tell everybody is that the character is not Hitler [laughs]. And the character is not Mussolini. It’s someone else. And there’s the dramatic event where you learn who this person is and that’s something I want to save for people.”

Screen Daily:

The Childhood of a Leader is billed as “a chilling fable about the rise of fascism in the 20th Century”.

It tells the story of a young American living in France in 1918 whose father is working for the US government on the creation of the Treaty of Versailles.

What he witnesses helps mould his beliefs and the film bears witness to the birth of a terrifying ego. Martin is to play the boy’s French teacher.”

Crew Daily:

Revealed Rob’s character name as “Charles”.  Not sure how accurate this site is, but they have updated filming to commence in January 2015.

The Playlist spoke to Mona Fastvold and Brady Corbet at Sundance (if you want to watch full interview click on Sundance)

“It’s set around 1918 / 1919 after the first World War and it is a chronicle of the childhood experiences of a little boy who grows up to be an important historical figure.”

It’s in this interview were Brady mentions that both he and Mona wrote the story themselves.

The Aesthlete

Corbet is well aware that to many it might seem like something of a tough sell. “I’m trying to find new and evocative ways to talk about it and make it sound not so dry because it is very formal, but it’s almost a thriller. It flirts with being a thriller for sure. Yeah, it’s a strange film. I guess I’ve always been passionate about anything that feels difficult.”

We Got This Covered (Article on Berenice joining the cast):

“Childhood of a Leader takes a look at the early days of a ruler who would rise to power following World War I. Pattinson will play the titular leader.

Bejo will take on the key role of the leader’s mother, replacing Juliette Binoche after scheduling conflicts forced that actress to disembark. … We don’t have any more information about the plot other than what is listed above, but which leader do you think Corbet’s film will focus on? One from history, or a figure of his own creation?”

Cultist/MiamaNewTimes:

“The film is called The Childhood of a Leader and chronicles, in part, the seven months leading up to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles,” he writes via email. “The film is focused on a political family that relocates to France for the Paris Peace Conference and is about their little boy’s metaphysical response to this tumultuous period of world history that paved the way for the Second World War.”

Time to ponder … perhaps the events are real but Rob’s character is fictitious.   Thoughts?  Whilst I go off to do some more research.

Brady & Mona were interviewed by IonCinema and they mention TCoAL at about 9.46:

Eye for Film spoke with Brady and Mona and this definitely gives us more insight into the film *cough Carmel cough*:

“Brady: The next film we’re making, I’m directing what Mona and I wrote together and we’re working together very closely from beginning to end as we did with this one. Basically, what determines who takes the lead is just whose story it is to tell.

Mona: And who is not giving birth to a baby.

Brady: And who is not giving birth to a baby. We’re making a film called The Childhood Of A Leader. It’s a historical film, which is one of the reasons why it’s been so difficult to put it together.

AKT: Historical set in what time?

Brady: 1919 mostly. It’s Bérénice Bejo, Tim Roth, Stacy Martin and Robert Pattinson. It’s about a family that relocates to France for the Paris Peace Conference and about the events leading up to the Treaty of Versailles, partially. It’s funny, whereas this project [The Sleepwalker] was about subverting the clichés of psycho-sexual thrillers, this is a historical film that’s not really a historical film. It’s about the childhood of a would-be-fascist. We’ll start shooting in January.

AKT: Have you heard of the novel Imperium by Christian Kracht? He wrote the screenplay of Finsterworld together with his wife, director Frauke Finsterwalder. Christian told me that the novel will be published in English next year. I don’t know if there is a Norwegian translation. Thematically, it should be interesting for you. It is about a man called August Engelhardt, who traveled at the beginning of the 20th century to the South Seas to establish a new society based on the divine qualities of the coconut. Connections to Hitler are fully intended.

Brady: That sounds amazing. This film is a really strange amalgamation of real events, a lot of literary references, lots of different biographies.

AKT: Literary references to whom, for example?

Brady: Everyone from John Fowles to Jean-Paul Sartre.

AKT: Which Fowles book?

Brady: There’s about a hundred pages in The Magus, where you’re dealing with a sort of Nazi infiltration on the island. There’s allusions to Volker Schlöndorff…

AKT: Which Schlöndorff film? I just did an interview with Volker a few weeks ago.

Brady: Young Törless.

AKT: Musil, I see. That makes sense”

Independent.ie (via @lurker1510)

“The film is the directorial debut of Brady Corbet and is described as a chilling story of fascism in the early 20th Century.

The story sees an American family settling in the French countryside at the end of World War One .

The father is involved in the peace negotiations and his wife is a devoutly Christian stay-at-home mother.

Their young son is a defiant seven-year-old whose seemingly harmless tantrums begin to demonstrate a monster in the making.

The movie also stars Pulp Fiction’s Tim Roth and up-and-coming actress Stacy Martin.”

WP Film (via @lurker1510)

“Action works will take place in France in 1919. The main character is a boy whose father is an adviser to President Woodrow Wilson. A man works in France with the creation of the Treaty of Versailles.”

Update: 16 March 2015

So I’m late to the party, but I just noticed on IMDbPro that Scott Alexander Young is now included as “Counselor”.

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Also I came across this article from Irish Film & Television Network:

“Liam Cunningham joins Robert Pattinson and Berenice Bejo who play the lead roles. The film is the directorial debut of Brady Corbet and is described as a chilling story of fascism in the early 20th century.

The story sees an American family settling in the French countryside at the end of World War One . The father is involved in the peace negotiations and his wife is a devoutly Christian stay-at-home mother. Their young son is a defiant seven year-old whose seemingly harmless tantrums begin to demonstrate a monster in the making.” [My emphasis]

Rob’s now being referred to as “lead”.

  • Carmel
    Posted on November 25, 2014

    @Maria – I am loving this. Pondering is my favorite pastime. Thanks for putting it all our reference material one place. I’m excited by my most recent guess – posted further back – of Prescott Bush. He even fits the ‘titular leader’ reference- that seems to rule out Head of States – however he was in France with the American Expeditionary Forces, not his family. Otherwise it all plays out pretty well.

  • Trish
    Posted on November 26, 2014

    OH, shit, I knew I should have taken history in high school. Geography didn’t help me one damn bit, and now look! I can’t even speculate intelligently on who the character might be. I think I’ll be lazy and wait until the film comes out. Best way to learn things, I find!

  • Maria
    Posted on November 26, 2014

    Interesting guess @Carmel …

  • Jules
    Posted on November 26, 2014

    Fantastic post!! Thanks a million for bringing this all together in one place too!! I’ve been all over the place with my guessing but I have loved loved the impromptu history lessons I’ve been having as part of any discussions!! 🙌😁 that’s really interesting @carmel, I’m going to have to do my own research there 😉 really wouldn’t be surprised if it’s real events but a fictitious character too?

    Thanks again Maria, this film sounds so intriguing and I really can’t wait to hear more.

  • sue
    Posted on November 26, 2014

    Dear Holmes & Watson, I expect you BOTH to keep on this case until it is solved.

  • Maria
    Posted on November 26, 2014

    Rightio @Sue

  • Carmel
    Posted on November 26, 2014

    @Trish – You can Google it

    HaHaHaHaHa Sorry, I had to do that.

  • Trish
    Posted on November 26, 2014

    Bwah ha ha – Carmel! Twi reference noted!

  • Roberta
    Posted on November 26, 2014

    I’m excited about it also because I read The Wall and it seems very close to the novel. I just hope it will shoot. After idol’s Eye tormented story I’m so afraid about these kind of Indie projects. I’ll be positive though.

  • Carmel
    Posted on February 26, 2015

    I have to get my hands on The Wall. I know it isn’t an adaptation but I am happy to go down any rabbit hole in this type of quest

  • Sue
    Posted on March 16, 2015

    “LEAD”. I’m liking this word A LOT. *fingers crossed*

  • Carmel
    Posted on March 17, 2015

    This movie, more than most, has been a journey I have really enjoyed. Maria, your updates have almost given me a whole new hobby and rekindled my enjoyment of modern history

  • Leave a Reply



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