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During the middle of the 16th century, Martin Guerre returns to his village in southwestern France, after being away in the war for almost a decade. The villagers who knew him as a young man suspect he is not Martin, but he seems to know all about his friends, his family and his wife, even the most unusual things. Is this man really Martin Guerre? Written by
Michel Rudoy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This isn't a comment on the actual quality of the movie itself, but rather a response to the number of postings which have suggested this movie is not an original concept.
I have some shocking news for you, but there really was a Martin Guerre. His court case in the mid-16th century is well documented in primary sources and this movie attempts to retell this story.
In 1983, historian Natalie Zemon Davis, who incidentally was originally involved with the film as an historical consultant, wrote a well received micro-history on the court case and it's outcome. (The Return of Martin Guerre - published by Harvard University Press, 1983)
This case was thought of as unusual even during the 16th century. So much so, that it became part of French folklore. Earlier Hollywood movies likely tapped into this folklore, when they penned similar stories.
So this film, rather than simply being another in a long line of similar movies, is the first to tackle the "original story". That being said, the movie is not perfect and strays from the facts a great deal. Natalie Zemon Davis, herself, states in her introduction to her book that she was troubled by the film's creative license with history.
Nevertheless, I recommend anyone to see this film yourself and make up your own mind. Better yet, read the book!
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