Les Visiteurs: A Fantasy and a Comedy Film

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The film Les Visiteurs (Poiré, 1993) is a fantasy and a comedy in which a knight from the eleventh century travels through time to the twentieth century and to the Paris of 1993.The film embodies elements of the film modes of the time and reflects ideas on social class and national identity for the French.The linking of past and present history helps give the idea of national identity a context and a continuum from medieval times to modern times.Continuity is also implied by the use of actors who have roles in the past and in the present, showing that they are descendants of thefirst group.Past and present are therefore linked most directly in the film.
The film has a French sensibility in the humor that tends toward the gross and slapstick in some areas, and part of this use of humor involves contrasts between past and present:
Much of the humor centers around the filthiness of the Middle Ages – people only bathing once a month, their rotting teeth and bad hygiene. Most of the characters in the present day are characterized as stuffy and uptight in their middle-class mores with the two characters from the Middle Ages being unleashed as a comic anarchic force to twist them on their head (Scheib 1996, para. 2).
The degree to which this film reflects French culture in a way different from American culture can be seen by examining both the French film and the American remake, Just Visiting, from 2001, also directed by Poiré.Hower, the production was clearly influenced more by American expectations than French, with stereotypical situations and French characters more caricature than realistic:
American films disseminate an image of France that is distorted by such stereotypes, and by the characteristics mentioned above–romance, a good/evil dichotomy, and a satisfying ending that will offer closure (Humbert 2003, para. 5).
What was more realistic and affecting in the French version has been simpli…