Vincent Mottez's Victory or Die is released in theaters on January 25.
It recounts the episode of the Wars of Vendée and the royalist general Charette.
This is the first film from Puy du Fou Films.
“It's a moving moment.
The culmination of a long journey,” says Nicolas de Villiers, president of Puy du Fou.
Released in cinemas this Wednesday in nearly 300 cities in France,
Vaincre ou Die
, a feature film directed by Vincent Mottez, has the distinction of being the first film produced by the Vendée theme park.
This spectacular fiction, with numerous combat scenes, recounts the episode of the Vendée Wars [which opposed royalists and republicans between 1793 and 1800] and, in particular, "the incredible epic", according to the production, of General Charette, played by Hugo Becker.
A subject already discussed at Puy du Fou through its successful show
Le Dernier panache
This cinematographic project, surprising for a tourist machine that is already very busy managing 2,200 employees and more than 2 million visitors a year, is even more surprising when you know that it will not be its last.
Far from there.
The production company Puy du Fou Films, a subsidiary of the park, was indeed created in 2021 with the aim of launching other audiovisual creations.
“The idea is that Puy du Fou can bring its own content to the screen itself, explains Nicolas de Villiers.
We believe that we can project complementary stories to those we tell on stage.
The feature film is the royal way to get started, but why not offer series?
Why not documentaries?
We do not forbid ourselves anything.
“Big Spectacle Movies”
According to the son of Philippe de Villiers, a former sovereignist politician and founder of the Vendée theme park, this diversification of the Puy du Fou company is the result of “deep reflection” during the health crisis.
“No one was expecting us on this slot.
But I think it's in our DNA to seek to surprise by being creative”, justifies Nicolas de Villiers who does not hide the fact that “one day making cinema was a childhood dream”.
So what will be the future content that Puy du Fou Films intends to promote on screen?
“A family cinema”, warns its president.
No sci-fi or big comedies, though.
Rather “big show films, which is not always easy in France because sometimes the means are lacking.
Then cinema that is inspired by history, it's a bit our trademark.
There is marvelous material in France, fabulous stories known to fans the world over.
To save time and reduce costs, the equipment mobilized year-round on the park will be partly put to use.
“We have 60,000 costumes at Puy du Fou, from all possible eras.
Extremely sophisticated decorations.
Horses very accustomed to humans, to all kinds of sporting challenges.
It's a real strength to have all that on site.
The park's usual service providers, for special effects or sound mixing, for example, will be called upon.
"Cinema is a world that is not so far from ours", observes Nicolas De Villiers.
"We can't understand each other"
As for the criticisms increasingly expressed, in particular by certain historians, pointing to the Puy du Fou's desire to present an erroneous version of the History of France for political purposes, Nicolas de Villiers says he is "no more shaken than that" .
“We follow the logic of the artist, like filmmakers all over the world.
Each film carries a vision, sometimes a message, it's completely natural.
We, at Puy du Fou, seek the share of light in each man and woman who has forged our history.
The historian, he seeks the truth on specific facts.
Asking historians to comment on the work of Puy du Fou is a bit like asking Fabien Galthié, French rugby coach, to comment on Nadal's tennis game.
It's not the same sport, we can't understand each other.
The boss of Puy du Fou continues, sure of himself.
“These historians, I think they must have sold 2,000 or 3,000 books.
We have 2.5 million visitors.
The difference between them and us can also be seen in success.
Victorious or Die
is distributed by Studio Canal (a subsidiary of Canal + controlled by Vivendi) as well as by Saje, a company specializing in the promotion of Christian films.
The latter had notably distributed the anti-abortion film
, whose broadcast on C8 had caused controversy in 2021.
With around 2.3 million spectators, in 2022 Puy du Fou ranked third (behind Disneyland and Parc Astérix) among French theme parks in terms of attendance.
The Vendée park has also displayed its international ambition for several years, with in particular the creation of Puy du Fou España, near Toledo in Spain.
Vendée: An international fireworks competition at Puy du Fou
With 2.34 million visitors, Puy du Fou beats its attendance record
Philippe de Villiers
Puy du Fou
Pays de la Loire