The Brides of Year II

The Grooms of Year II is a French – Italian – Romanian film directed by Jean – Paul Rappeneau , released in 1971 .

The title of the film refers to ” Soldiers of Year II, ” a major popular mobilization against foreign invasions.


At the end of the xviii th century, a little boy and a little girl playing in the snow-covered countryside, encounter a gypsy. The scene stops there but we learn later what happens: the gypsy predicted that the girl would become a princess and that the boy would know fortune and glory in a new world. The two children were married afterwards and are the two adult protagonists of the film: Nicolas Philibert and his wife Charlotte. Their destiny changed course when he killed a baron too eagerly near her.

After this scene, we change times. Nicolas Philibert must flee to the United States, South Carolina . In a few years he makes his fortune and has the opportunity to marry again, to a rich heiress of the country. But in the heart of the ceremony he is denounced for bigamy. He must return to Nantes to find Charlotte and ask for a divorce, newly established. This in the year II of the Republic, while the Revolution and civil war are raging.

He borrows a wheat boat chartered by his future father-in-law. In Nantes, it is the state of siege. The boat is first shot but we let them pass by learning that they sell wheat. The population, feverish, makes them an enthusiastic welcome. But the principal strongman of the city, delegated by the Convention , cries to the plot and declares that the wheat is poisoned. He orders Philibert to wait while the cargo is inspected.

Philibert escapes immediately to look for Charlotte. He finds the father of her, who announces that she is no longer in the city. She managed to be courted by a Marquis, Henri de Guérande, with whom she fled into the ranks of the Royalist army. Nobody knows where she is, but a clerk knows the address of Pauline de Guérande, the marquis’ sister, who still lives in the city.

He goes without waiting, but he has barely noticed that she runs away from home seeing guards arrive. These guards are actually looking Philibert, who is announced that wheat is finally recognized healthy. He is the hero of the day and is invited to a ceremony of the cult of Reason .

During the ceremony, to his surprise, Pauline de Guérande is on stage. She sings a hymn to Reason. But after having finished, suddenly she takes out a pistol and tries to assassinate the delegate of the Convention. The pistol jams, the shot does not go away. The delegate then throws herself on her, pulls out her sword and attacks it. Philibert, indignant at this cowardice, attacks the latter with his fists, which allows Pauline to flee. He is accused of treason, he is sentenced to death after a mock trial.

He escapes and fled into the wild, hoping to rejoin his boat through the estuary . But he falls into an ambush of the Chouans . These take him for a spy, they want to execute it. He is saved by the impromptu arrival of Pauline de Guérande, who is part of their band, and who presents him as his savior.

Philibert is led to their base, a castle which is the refuge of many royalists under the command of Henri de Guérande. He finally finds Charlotte, his wife, who pretends to be a widow. He tries to talk to him but a hodgepodge of events prevents him. First a prince, sent from the counter-revolution, arrives at the castle and sets everyone in motion. Then love quarrels broke out, between Charlotte and Philibert, between Charlotte and Henri de Guérande, between Charlotte and the prince, between a nobleman and Pauline de Guérande, between Philibert and Pauline de Guérande, and a complex relationship between Henri and Pauline Guérande, brother and sister.

Philibert, drawn into these stories, at the height of exasperation, end up proclaiming himself republican and provoking a general brawl with the whole gang. In the midst of confusion, during a misunderstanding, Charlotte reveals that he is Nicolas Philibert, the assassin of the Marquis (the one at the beginning), and that he is her husband. The couple fled the castle and managed to sow the pursuers.

They take refuge in a tree, where they spend the night entwined. They wake up screaming. But this is the moment that Philibert chooses to ask for a divorce. Charlotte gets into a terrible rage. At that moment, the Prince’s sedan passes near them. Charlotte stops him and asks him to take her away, agreeing to marry him. The prince, all of joy, agrees to spare Philibert, but is forced to drug him to drive him without a show to the mayor and get a divorce.

Divorce does not happen without pain. An insurrection broke out at the town hall against the delegate of the Convention, who was removed from office by the Committee of Public Safety . And the prince is recognized by an old maid, which forces them to flee, not without having completed the divorce in due form.

When Philibert returns to his senses, he is aboard his boat sailing to America. He is shown his divorce. Everything seems to be going for the best, the prediction of the gypsy is realized: Charlotte will marry a prince and he will know the fortune in America. But he is morose. Suddenly a gust of wind projects the act of divorce overboard. He takes this pretext to declare that everything is to start again and that he must join Charlotte. He dives into the estuary and joins France.

He leaves in pursuit of the sedan. At the castle she is told that she has left for Koblenz , the home of the emigrants in Germany. He goes in that direction. After crossing the country, he joined them close to the German border, while the battle raged with the Austrians. He engages with the French troops, after having met French volunteers. He takes an active part in the fight.

He can not prevent Charlotte and the prince from joining the enemy lines. But Charlotte, upon her arrival, decides to escape the prince. She flees and passes alone the enemy lines in the other direction.

The story is interrupted there, made the ellipse of several years, to resume in 1809, in a sumptuous castle. The couple is in the middle of the gilding in a splendid room, as usual in the middle of fighting. They must interrupt their scene to pose, in front of a painter, with their three children. The film ends there: Nicolas Philibert made a brilliant military career, until becoming prince of Empire . The gypsy’s prediction came true: Charlotte became a princess, and knew her fortune and glory in a new world.

Technical sheet

  • Title: The Bridegroom of Year II
  • Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
  • Scenario: Jean-Paul Rappeneau and Claude Sautet and Maurice Clavel
  • Dialogues: Jean-Paul Rappeneau , Maurice Clavel and Daniel Boulanger
  • Artistic direction: Willy Holt
  • Sets: Willy Holt , Marcel Bogos , Rodica Savin , Alexandre Trauner
  • Costumes: Marcel Escoffier and Nelly Merola
  • Photography: Claude Renoir
  • Editing: Pierre Gillette
  • Assistants director: Marc Maurette , Marc Grunebaum and Bernard Stora
  • Music: Michel Legrand
  • Production: Alain Poiré
  • Production Companies: Gaumont ( France ), Rizzoli Film ( Italy ) and Studio Bucaresti ( Romania )
  • Distribution companies: Gaumont
  • Country of origin: France / Italy / Romania
  • Language: French
  • Format: color – 35 mm – 1.85: 1 – monophonic sound
  • Genre: comedy, adventure and history
  • Duration: 98 minutes
  • Release dates: France : 


  • Jean-Paul Belmondo : Nicolas Philibert / Bastillac
  • Marlène Jobert : Charlotte Philibert
  • Sami Frey : the Marquis Henri de Guérande
  • Laura Antonelli : Pauline of Guérande
  • Michel Auclair : The Prince
  • Pierre Brasseur : Gosselin, Charlotte’s father, wine merchant
  • Julien Guiomar : the representative of the people
  • Patrick Préjean : Saint-Aubin
  • Georges Beller : Simon, the national guard
  • Mario David : Requiem, the prince’s henchman
  • Charles Denner : the disciple traveler of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Marc Dudicourt : the imprisoned MP
  • Sim : Lucas, the Gosselin accountant
  • Billy Kearns : shipowner Arthur Davison
  • Vernon Dobtcheff : Pastor Toby
  • Paul Crauchet : the public prosecutor
  • Patrick Dewaere : a volunteer
  • Martin Lartigue : a volunteer
  • Jacques Legras : the divorces officer
  • Jean Barney : The Republican Speaker
  • Henri Guybet : a Sans-Culotte, a friend of Simon
  • Hervé Jolly : a royalist (uncredited)
  • Maurice Barrier : the cocardier citizen
  • François Cadet : the candidate for divorce
  • Ermanno Casanova : an innkeeper
  • René Morard : an innkeeper
  • Denise Péron : the gossip
  • Monique Garnier : the gypsy fortune-teller?
  • Jean-Pierre Marielle : voice in the prologue and the epilogue


The film totals 2.8 million admissions, making it the ninth most successful film of year 1 .


  • In competition at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival


Jean-Paul Rappeneau had thought of Catherine Deneuve for the lead, but it was not free, then Julie Christie and Warren Beatty who could also produce 2 . The producer then appealed to Marlène Jobert 2 .

Jean-Paul Rappeneau originally wanted to turn Claude Jade and Michel Duchaussoy for brother and sister very attached to each other. He finally turns Laura Antonelli (future fiancée of Belmondo) and Sami Frey . Patrick Dewaere very young at the time has a small role as a young soldier of the revolution in the final sequences.

The film was shot in 1968, mostly in Romania, to be able to implement a very large number of extras. Some scenes of the revolution were inspired by the events of May 1968 that took place shortly before the shooting. But he encountered great difficulties of implementation because of cultural differences 2 . His filming was much longer than expected, from August 3 to December 17, 1968 2 . Some exteriors were also shot in Moret-sur-Loing and the castles of Compiegne and Vaux-le-Vicomte .

Michel Legrand composed the theme of the credits inspired by the music of the time. Similarly, the orchestra and the song on the Feast of Reason are as it 3 . On the other hand, the song that volunteers sing in the coach is period, it is called “First appearance of Louis Capet before the Convention” 4 .

Although not named in the film, the representative of the people, played by Julien Guiomar evokes the historical figure of Jean-Baptiste Carrier and the drownings of Nantes .

In the divorce scene, one of the clerks converts the date of their marriage into a Republican calendar, but the conversion is false. Charlotte says “February 14, 1786” and he answers “12 Ventose 1786”: the date of February 14 corresponds in fact to 25/26 Pluviose, and in any case the year 1786 does not exist in this calendar.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Box Office of 1971
  2. ↑ a , b , c and d Director’s comments on the DVD
  3. ↑ Music by Jean-Paul Rappeneau  [ archive ]
  4. ↑ Revolutionary Songwriter – Gallimard – June 5, 1989

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