Creating a Louis de Funès museum is a real challenge: how can we pay tribute to this artist who made the whole French nation laugh for over thirty years? How can we reproduce the atmosphere of his films, so steeped in a bygone era? How can we avoid falling into a syrupy nostalgia, a tearful tribute, a condensed life without charm? And above all, how can we pay tribute to one of our greatest film artists?
Inventor of his own style and undeniably a brilliant actor, we know little about him. He always preferred to let his work speak for itself. Giving few interviews, he was a discreet man. Yet he remains a hugely influential actor who revolutionised French cinema through his films.
To immerse yourself in his life and his work is to discover a hard worker, an aesthete of laughter who spent his life perfecting his game, devising his next film adventure.
An anxious man who was afraid of doing something wrong and who, passionate about ecology and gardening, spent his time tending to his garden as he came up with his future roles. This castle, where his wife spent her childhood and which he had the pleasure of buying in the 1960s, was his retreat and his home where, from dawn to dusk, he could enjoy his roses and trees, taking care of them with infinite delicacy.
He loved his family, watched over his world and shared his fruit and vegetables with the residents of the village. Louis de Funès was a discreet seigneur.
A few years ago, in the cellar of the castle, Roselyne and Charles Duringer decided to open a place to honour his memory. Thanks to the family’s tremendous generosity, sons Olivier and Patrick de Funès gathered rare and exceptional documents, family photos, films, plays, but also his famous notebooks, letters and a large number of film posters. It closed its doors after the sale of the castle but the collection remained intact, waiting at Olivier de Funès’ home for a new showcase.
When we proposed the idea to the family of putting all these pieces in an original museum dedicated entirely to the actor, they immediately said yes. With passion and conviction, we set ourselves the challenge of opening a museum in the summer, on 31 July, the actor’s birthday.
In six months, we achieved the impossible. A museum has sprung from the earth: not only with scientific content but also an exhibition composed of clips from his films, rare documents from the National Audiovisual Institute (INA), exceptional Gaumont collections, music of course as well as photographs, which complete the collection.
With my team, set designer Christian Marti, assisted by Perrine Villemur, Isabelle Lainé and Méliné Keloglanian in production, Matthias Abhervé and Inès Saint Cerin in audiovisuals as well as Alexis Coussement in lighting, to name only the leading figures of this impressive anthill, we have worked hard to build this original place.
A story has been woven, sets have come to life, atmospheres have been created so that each space is unique and the whole place becomes a cinematic dream, a joyful stroll through the life and work of one of the greatest actors of the 20th century.
We dreamed of making this museum an emblematic place of popular culture by appealing to everyone with what would appeal to us. We hope you enjoy visiting it.
Clémentine Deroudille, CURATOR