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Predictions of "Man of Iron"

Andrzej Wajda


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Raoul Coutard - Film-maker

The system of- the filmmakers sent their photos, their rolls to these companies, and for the photographers on the other hand there was a press service. But de Gaulle, de Gaulle! De Lattre wanted to see all the photos. Every time a guy came back from an operation, he wanted to see all the photos. He looked at all the photos; there were some that he didn't want us to publish. And the only instruction we had was- The French soldiers are all handsome. That's incredible! That was the only instruction we were given. Well, either way, the guys were in uniform. So that was the only thing. Nevertheless, there was censorship. From who? De Lattre? From de Lattre, who said- I don't want this photo. I mean first of all he already had, he had all- If there was something a little tricky, it was- There were two people in charge of information, one of them was Jean-Pierre Dannaud who was at the "Commissariat de France" and there was Michel Froiss who was captain, who was there for the soldiers, those were the two that went to see the general. And actually there was something quite amusing because when they went, when de Lattre arrived, everyone was scared to death. De Lattre's nefarious reputation preceded him, so everyone was really scared. We took photos and we needed photos of his arrival, one of them said- there were photographers around, I want to see the photos. Everyone was scared to bring him the photos except for two of them who didn't chicken out, Dannaud and Froiss, who took the photos and gave them to him. And de Lattre said- Very good, these are the ones I want. I was there as a photographer and there was a little Vietnamese guy that was part of our department and it's the little Vietnamese guy's photo that was chosen as the official one. So and afterwards, every time there were operations, he called the two guys, he gave his orders. And then one day, they said- but you know general, we can't give- we can't give the order to do that, we can't. What, you're not in charge, where are the bosses? Well it's so-and-so and so-and-so, so fired. So there was something that de Lattre did, he would summon people, he worked like the computer scientists do today. He worked at night. De Lattre? Yes. So he would summon the guys at four in the afternoon, so you've been summoned, the guy knew he was going to get a real tongue-lashing, so they came- I'm not going to let him do it, I don't give a damn about this old fool, he gets on our nerves, you'll see. And the guy was in this thing, there were loads of guys waiting like at the dentist- And all of them were determined to tell the old guy to go to hell, but then they wouldn't see him until three in the morning, they were exhausted, there was nothing left. Yes general, very well general, you're fired, well, OK general. You're right general. So he fired the guy that ran the department, it was a guy that ran, who was an old Algerian soldier. And it's quite amusing because de Lattre was quite an incredible person because he fired him, he saw him for 10 minutes, enough to tell him off, to explain why he was fired. And two years later, he was giving medals and the guy was receiving a medal. And when it came time to give him his medal, he said to him- You see, good thing I fired you. He had recognised him. It's quite astonishing, because he saw hundreds of guys every day. So anyway the two where therefore- So it's true that from then on information started to work. There were press files sent off to the French papers: "France Soir", "Figaro", etc. And everyone got that for free, I mean they either used it or not. Who wrote the texts? So the texts, everyone put, every photographer would write a caption to explain what it was and one of the firm's sub-editors would write the text if it was required. And the photos were signed? They were all- we knew who it was- We knew who took them? There weren't any names? No, no. There was no name under the photo? No, there was no copyright. On the other hand, when the war was almost over, on the French side, the "Figaro" was the only one to send a silver Dupont lighter to all the photographers. It's the only paper that did that, all the others had taken advantage of it, and we didn't get a thank you, not even from "Paris Match".
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