Serious hopes that the French film The Intouchables will soar to the highest levels of world ratings were not even among the previously not so well-known film directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. The concept did not particularly give off novelty, promising boredom, obsessive moralizing and notations about a tolerant attitude towards the disabled. Too “star” actors and large-scale advertising did not master the allocated budget.
However, against all odds, “The Intouchables” was recognized as a brilliant masterpiece of the comedy genre with a touch of drama. The film won the hearts of millions of viewers around the globe. It masterfully combines soul-catching music, decent acting, high-quality directing, natural and not vulgar humor. The plot line is quite smooth, without unexpected sharp edges. Everything is in moderation here: the film will make you laugh, cry a little and think about the meaning of life in general. This is something much more than just another story about a prince and a beggar.
What is the difference between real and fictional story
Realism helps to imbue the story with it. Although, in order to understand the meaning, it is not at all necessary to know that the plot is written off from real events. We are talking about the wealthy aristocrat Philip Pozzo di Borgo and Abdella Sellu, a lawbreaker who was repeatedly convicted of robberies.
Edits to the script were made with the direct participation of the prototype of the protagonist. To dilute the tape with jokes “with salt and pepper” is only his wish. Interestingly, the directors replaced the Arabic roots of the second hero with Afro-French ones, without looking at the fact that this is a significant discrepancy.
Usually people from Africa adapt much easier in society and do not disdain dirty work. The contradiction between them and the native French people is not as bright as in the case of the Arabs – the instigators of lawlessness, the owners of most of the “vacant” places in city prisons, the constant recipients of welfare (unemployment benefits for immigrants).
It is difficult to say whether such a substitution was made specifically for national reasons. Perhaps such a step was taken in order to facilitate the perception of the plot for the viewer. It is probably much easier to believe in a black man pulling compression stockings on the patient’s legs than a representative of the Middle East, involuntarily associated with the criminal world, doing the same thing. It is possible that such an opinion is just prejudice, but still there is certainly some truth in it.
Otherwise, the plot is devoid of any social oppositions. Stereotypes of division into blacks and whites are completely absent. With a crazy difference in characters, lifestyles and destinies, the characters are tightly bound by restlessness, which gives rise to friendship, mutual assistance and understanding.
Why did the internal merging of characters happen?
The main characters are brought face to face by an ordinary case. The purpose of this meeting with the former criminal Driss is banal – to sign a paper refusing to be accepted for a position with another employer, in order to receive unemployment benefits later. Philip is looking for a responsible assistant who would “become his hands and feet.”
The absolute antipodes are the classic representative of the aristocratic stratum, who became the victim of an accident, and the poor Afro-Frenchman from the Parisian suburbs, where crime reigns, who understands nothing about the culture and moral foundations of behavior. One is calm and measured, the other is eccentric and crazy.
It would seem that what is common between two completely opposite personalities? Despite all everyday problems, the eyes of a child of the street burn with a thirst for life, endless energy boils in him. This is what captivates a wealthy disabled man who, like his new black nurse, has nothing to lose.
And Philip was right. Driss did not feel sorry for him, like the whole environment and dozens of previous workers. The guy treated him like a healthy person, as if not noticing the wheelchair, betraying the fact that he was paralyzed, feeling nothing from the neck to the tips of his toes. In a relationship, the usual, but defiant contempt, servility for the sake of money does not slip.
Driss has a personal opinion on everything, which he does not even think about hiding. The eccentric ridicules the surrealistic picture, calling it worthless scribbles-paintings, laughs from high art in the theater, gives out funny associations with centuries-old masterpieces of classical music. He makes Philip go through a real emotional upheaval, smile all the time, see joy in small things. Having pulled the ward out of the cocoon of everyday life, the assistant gives him a second wind and a desire for life.
Driss himself was not spared the changes either. The young man took a different look at the world of people who have everything: wealth, power, pathos. Having crossed his principles, he began to serve the disabled and learn to live in a decent society, overcame his own fears by taking off above the ground on a paraglider.
The characters are similar in that they are both dismissed as hopeless. Sentenced to a similar outcome, having crossed, they take each other for the norm, find a harmonious relationship, erasing all invisible barriers between themselves. The story has a good ending. The fact that a paraplegic was able to live almost fully, inspires and impresses much more than if he became a prisoner of his own helplessness and, in despair, decided to euthanasia.
What is the idea of the film “The Intouchables”
Our society is accustomed to perceive national minorities with hostility, to look around with an arrogant, pitiful look, or simply not to notice the disabled, as well as the lost street gopniks. It is easier for many people to delete from the life of people who do not fit into the standard framework. This truth does not apply to everyone, but it is worth thinking about. You can’t be so categorical. You need to be able to support without making any emphasis on certain features, and sometimes remember the saying: “Even a bad person can be corrected by giving him a chance.”
The film teaches the viewer not to wait for the right time to be happy. Difficulties occur in the life of any person, regardless of status and position in society: some replace others, then others, and so on ad infinitum. It would not hurt to learn to live with them, enjoy every day, appreciate what you have at the moment. After all, life is short, so there is a huge risk of simply not having time to enjoy short moments, spending it on self-pity, depression and longing.
“The Intouchables” hidden meaning
It is hardly necessary to explain in order to convey the basic meaning of the feature film “The Intouchables”. This movie is about the power of friendship and love, about how one person can change another for the better. However, most likely, the film would not have been such a success if it did not have additional subtext, hidden meaning. There are already too many tapes on a similar topic, shot no less talentedly, but at the same time not achieving the same high results.
However, the name “The Untouchables” immediately gives an accurate description of both the main characters of the film. The untouchables are the lowest and poorest caste in India, whose members live in terrible conditions and are still persecuted and bullied by the more privileged sections of the population.
On the other hand, the rich from high society can also be called untouchable, or inviolable. They are at the pinnacle of success, they have money, power and almost every material wealth that one could wish for. It is almost impossible to become a part of this society if you are from a different circle. Given that the action takes place in France and it is not about specific groups of people, but rather about their way of life, the main characters of the film “The Intouchables” are representatives of these two estates.
That is why the authors changed the canonical Arab to a black native of Senegal. In some moments, this opposition is presented directly, in the forehead. For example, in the scene when Driss enters the snow-white bathroom in Philip’s house. The soundtrack is also indicative: “Ave Maria”. The directors make it clear: a person from the very bottom of society is literally stepping into the territory of the celestials.
The world of Driss is a world of crime and everyday disorder among the slums. Philip’s world personifies a jaded Europe, looking at the rest of the world as if from above. His passion for paragliding, wealth, views instilled since childhood, and even his paralysis (as a symbol of stagnation and incomprehension of what to do next) play in favor of this allegory.
There is a clash – this has happened to the Old World in recent decades, when refugees become its new inhabitants, and the native Europeans do not know how to behave with these people. Their dismay is similar to the reaction of Philip himself, his relatives and workers to the antics of Driss.
Such a collision in life may well lead to disaster, but in the end of the film, on the contrary, something new and beautiful is born. Everyone finds their own happiness. The whole idea of the picture is expressed by its official slogan: “Sometimes you need to penetrate into a strange world in order to understand what is missing in your own.”
The fact that this meaning was conveyed without distortion is a great merit of the directors and the real Philippe Di Pozzo. The latter insisted that the emphasis should not be on drama, but on comedy. At the same time, although there are a couple of vulgar episodes in the film, the humorous component cannot be called sharp. Everything is served easily and, most importantly, with kindness.
If the authors had tried to screen real events exactly, there would have obviously been more dramatic moments. There is a sense of proportion throughout the material. The shortage of such films also played in favor of the creators of “The Intouchables”.
The meaning of the ending
The very beginning repeats the ending of the film “The Intouchables”. The episode with the return of Driss is duplicated in the finale, where we see the police chasing the main characters. Here Driss behaves, perhaps, no less defiantly than before. But we already know how he changed.
He is not alone – all the secondary characters have become a little better: the workers of Philip Yvon and Magally, and his adopted daughter Elissa with her boyfriend Marcel, and the unlucky nephew Driss Adama, and Aunt Fatu. The meaning of the ending of the film “The Intouchables” is conveyed through all these changes.
Driss returns the stolen Faberge egg (another proof of the transformation) and helps Philippe take what may be the most important step in his life – to finally meet his pen pal who will accept him for who he is.
Driss leaves. But he doesn’t leave his friend. He says: “I’ll be there” – and leaves, stepping on the white tiles of the embankment (also a completely conscious artistic device). Driss accepted a piece of the world of “celestials” and became something like a guardian angel for Philip. This is the end of the film and the beginning of a new stage for both characters, which is announced by the credits at the end, telling about the further happy family life of both characters.