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Saturday, May 13, 2006

French satire

I found this article in today's Guardian fascinating. They report that French President, Jacques Chirac is about to make history as the first French president to be immortalised as a complete buffoon on the cinema screen, in a satirical documentary by two Oscar winners.

Dans la Peau de Jacques Chirac - Being Jacques Chirac - played to tears of laughter at Paris previews this week. It will open in France on May 31 as part of a phenomenon the newspaper Liberation calls "Chiracophobia: the new national sport".

Already The Tragedy of the President, a book detailing the president's gluttony, lies, and belief in his own mysterious healing powers, sold out its first print run in days and has topped the bestseller list for seven weeks. Its author, Franz-Olivier Giesbert, has been stopped in the street by people shaking his hand and saying "Bravo!".

But being Jacques Chirac goes a step further in its humiliating treatment of a head of state. Commentators say the film would have been unthinkable even a few years ago, and its box office takings will reveal whether the nation has lost all respect for the institution of president.

The 90-minute film is made up entirely of clips from archive television footage of Mr Chirac during nearly 40 years in public office, as minister, prime minister, Paris mayor and president. The footage gives free reign to his perpetual suave grin, vanity and famous political dithering and U-turning which saw him named the "weathervane".

We see Mr Chirac wandering his country estate, his love of shaking hands - even with dogs, his chauffeur relaying how he would come out of 15-minute appointments with his trousers undone; and we see the frostiness from his long-suffering and fearsome wife Bernadette. An alarmingly convincing voiceover by a Chirac impersonator gives a hilarious commentary on the president's life.

With this and Michael Moore's efforts, are we seeing the start of a new trend debunking politicians?
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