The Return of Martin Guerre

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This might seem like an odd review to include in a 'Movie Mistakes' website, but I'm putting it in anyway!

I first saw The Return Of Martin Guerre on a rental video in the 1980's. This was presented as a documented historical event. that occured in sixteenth century France. I was impressed by its apparent historical accuracy, but some bits of the story seemed so glib and far-fetched that I assumed that the script-writer and director were using dramatic licence. I hope this is not a spoiler, but I thought that the denouement, in particular, so stretched credulity, that it had been tacked on to make a suitably dramatic ending.

Well, when I saw it, this was before the invention of the internet, so checking the story would have meant some extended trips to the library, so I did not immediately try to research The Return Of Martin Guerre.

A year or so later I went on a history course, where we read a historical study of the Martin Guerre episode based on contemporary source material, written by a historian who had the linguistic knowledge to study the original sources. I was utterly flabbergasted to find out that the entire film is 100% accurate (or, at least, as reasonably accurate as any twentieth century film of sixteenth century events could plausibly be), and that every bit of the story, implausible as it all seemed, occurred exactly as portrayed in the film.

Rob Halliday

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