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Film / Eiffel

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Eiffel is a 2021 French historical romantic drama film loosely based off the life of Gustave Eiffel, the French civil engineer who gave Paris its most iconic monument, the Eiffel Tower. It is directed by Martin Bourboulon and written by Caroline Bongrand, and Alexandre Desplat composed the soundtrack.

Towards the end of the 1880s, master engineer Gustave Eiffel (Romain Duris), who revolutionized construction using iron beam structures, just finished collaborating on the structure of the Statue of Liberty. The French government want him to conceive "something spectacular" for the 1889 World's Fair in Paris. At a dinner, he meets an old flame of his youth, Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey), whom he met when building a bridge over the Garonne river. Their flame gets revived and she even partly inspires him the new project, a 300 meter tall iron tower. Trouble is, Adrienne is married to another man.

Eiffel provides examples of:

  • Artistic License – History: Gustave Eiffel did have a relationship with a woman named Adrienne Bourgès in his youth, but nothing has ever indicated that they ever were reunited after it was called off. Nor that the "A" of her name inspired him the shape of the tower, for that matter.
  • How We Got Here: The film starts in 1889 with Gustave in his office at the top of the finished tower during a storm. He works on a plan of the tower, reminisces about the inauguration day and goes out in the gusts of wind to take a look at the city. Then it cuts to three years earlier, when he was made a Honorary US Citizen for having built the iron structure of the Statue of Liberty, then to him in his offices in 1887.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Gustave's reaction upon learning that his daughter Claire wants to marry his employee Adolphe Salles. Though he accepts the situation and ends up taking several glasses and sharing the booze between himself, Adolphe and Adrienne to celebrate.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    • At the beginning, Gustave explains he'd prefer working on Le Métropolitain because it is "modern" and he doesn't like the idea of a temporary monument for the World's Fair. Of course, the tower he would build would be anything but temporary and become THE symbol of Paris.
    • When Gustave is presented a model of a proto-iron tower just like the tower would become (with more refinements in its structure), he simply finds it "ugly" and leaves. He comes back at it and pushes through later on.
  • Making the Masterpiece: The film is a fictional account of how Gustave Eiffel got the idea to build his namesake tower the way it is.
  • Missing Mom: Gustave's wife Marguerite and Claire's mother died prior to the beginning of the story (in 1877 in Real Life).
  • Old Flame: Gustave and Adrienne were in a relationship long ago and it ended. They get reunited in 1887.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Gustave has a I Need a Freaking Drink reaction upon learning that his daughter wants to marry his employee Adolphe Salles, who's clearly not the type he expected for her. Surprisingly though, he doesn't object, and even consents to giving his daughter's hand to him and offers them both a drink to celebrate.
  • Urban Segregation: Gustave wants to avoid this by building the tower right in the middle of Paris so everyone, bourgeois and working classes alike, can appreciate the view.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: There's even a message stating "Freely inspired by real facts" at the beginning.