Le Premier Homme
Il Primo uomo
Gianni Amelio, from the novel by Albert Camus, with the same title
35mm - colour
festivals & awards:
Summer 1957. A man in his forties, Jacques Cormery, stands in silent contemplation by his father's grave in a military cemetery in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany. He never knew the man and realizes, as he gazes at the gravestone, that he is now older than his father was when he died.
A few days later, Jacques goes to visit his mother who lives in Algiers. The city is at war. Students who share his ideas have invited him to take part in a debate at their university and come to meet him at the airport. When extremists in favor of keeping Algeria French force their way into the lecture hall, the debate turns into a riot and Jacques Cormery is booed off the stage. The next day, he goes to see his mother, the person that he has come back for. She still lives in the same apartment, the one that they shared with Uncle Etienne when Jacques was still a child, under the tyrannical rule of his grandmother.
Jacques recalls his years in primary and middle school during which he shared his escapades and soccer games with European and Algerian friends. He also remembers Mr. Bernard, the teacher who opened the gates of the high school for him and launched him into a life unimaginable for a child born into an illiterate family.
Loyal to his past, what can he do to reconcile those like him, Algerian and European, who were born on Algerian soil but whom the passage of time has transformed into hereditary enemies?