The French Revolution has been touted by modern leftists as one of their finest achievements, but can they really regard it as such? The filmmaker behind The Hidden Rebellion, a new docudrama exposing the horrific atrocities committed during that tumultuous time of upheaval, doesn't think so.
After having worked as a producer for over 16 years at EWTN, French filmmaker Daniel Rabourdin has made it his mission to bring the truth to light. In an exclusive interview with TR, Daniel Rabourdin opened up to us about the history explored in The Hidden Rebellion and what conservatives can do to help bring it to public prominence. Their support page can be viewed here. Interview below:
1.) What motivated you to make this docudrama, The Hidden Rebellion, about the French Revolution?
I think it is the contrast I saw between France and America. In France, there is a lot less freedom for Christians and, actually, less freedom for entrepreneurs as well. At the same time, as I have lived in America for the past 27 years, I see a tendency here to move toward less liberty for freethinkers and for those who want to freely create their own company. I care for America as my second country, I don't want the same restriction of freedom that I suffered from in France to happen here. So, I want to say, "don’t become like us, see where it led us."
2.) Could you summarize the basic arc of the story you are telling in the The Hidden Rebellion?
The story starts at the beginning of the French Revolution in the year 1789 – 15 years or so after the American Revolution – in this region of France called Vendée, near Normandy, where people were neither pro nor con regarding the Revolution. But as the revolutionaries’ restrictions began to increase, the Vendéans started to be against it. As opposition grew in the region, the revolutionaries realized they would not be able to implement their utopian plan of micromanagement unless they went through a “Reign of Terror.”
It means they had to terrorize their population in order to create their happy society. The Vendéans, who were slightly more prosperous than many people in France, and spiritually stronger, rebelled when the revolutionaries asked them to give up their sons to a new massive army of 300,000 men and have their priests swear allegiance to the government.
The Vendéan farmers became further agitated when the government began replacing their priests with government employees. Where would it stop? Since over 70% of the clergy refused to swear allegiance, the Vendéans began to hide their priests, and if they were found out by the police, much trouble ensued, including death. Eventually, the Vendéean farmers ended up forming a force of fighters, which amassed as many as 70,000 men. We have to remember, at that time, armies counted only between 5,000 men and 40,000 men. The farmers had also forced their noblemen to enlist as their commanders and do more of the strategic planning and training of the troops.
For the story, I illustrate it through the eyes of a farmer family: husband, wife and son. At first, the husband is intrigued by the revolution and the wife is suspicious. Eventually, the Terror reaches them when they lose their son and the wife is kidnapped. Through the torments of the war, the husband and wife search for each other, and in doing so, they go through a military and spiritual transformation.
The revolutionaries were known for using terrorist tactics against the Vendéans, including weapons of mass destruction. They experimented with gas, water poisoning, and scare tactics like the melting of bodies and using grease in their hospitals.
They also may have been one of the early users of concentration camps and mass murdering. They would pack up men, women, and children into the warehouses of Nantes and leave them to die of disease or pull them out for drowning.
One of their most horrific method was mass-drowning by sinking of boats. It is difficult to speak about it but the truth must be told. They would pack and lock fifty farmers into barges and sink the boats.
The archives document that in one day, up to 4,000 farmers could be drowned. The numbers are staggering. Maybe 150,000 civilians were killed, especially women and children as the revolution wanted to extinguish the future of those Vendéans. That is why this docudrama participates in wanting the French Revolution to be recognized as the author of a genocide.
According to international law, a genocide is the conception and execution of the extermination of a human group according to his ethnical, racial, political or religious group.
Well, all those elements were present in the Vendéans’ story. Parisian revolutionaries used terms such as "annihilation", "impure race", “exterminated by end of October”. We have the documents, the orders from the government, and the responses from the generals on the field. The ironic part is that the French army archives did their job so well that we can find all of those incriminating documents today in the army libraries.
3.) What themes does The Hidden Rebellion explore?
Many very interesting themes. One, it offers a reflection on the “Just-War” by asking when is it right to enter a war? One of the four principles of the “Just-War” in the western world is that the situation must be better and not worse after the war. We can think of Syria for example. Is the nation’s situation going to be better after the toppling the tyrant? If the nation will suffer more after the war, then it may not be just to go into this war.
The film also challenges political ideologies. Do the people have intrinsic rights that politicians must respect or not? Or are the ideologies inventors of rights, even if it seems they go against nature? Are the politicians stewards of human rights or social engineers of rights? Do they force humanity or allow humanity to flourish?
We also speak about the famous principle of subsidiarity. The farmers were doing just fine so long as the government – the king at the time – was providing stability, security and justice.
The film also explores the Christian themes of love for the enemy. As soon as the enemy was disabled, he became just one more miserable creature to not abuse for the Vendéans, . The Vendéans pardoned 4,000 prisoners when they couldn’t transport them across the Loire River in their massive retreat. Their leaders made them say the "Our Father" with an emphasis on the “as we forgive those who trespassed against us”.
This contributed, in my opinion, to the impressive peace the farmers had in fighting – winning, losing or dying. They had little hate, so their soul was more at peace in those extreme situations. Most, in their humanity, were in fear, but their souls were at peace.
4.) Does The Hidden Rebellion expound on the importance of religious freedom?
Very much, and I think it has a three-pronged respect for freedoms: religious freedom, economic freedom, and physical freedom.
5.) Describe the filmmaking process for The Hidden Rebellion.
We filmed in the exact region in France where those battles and revolts happened, and we filmed with some of the great, great, great, grandchildren of the Vendée fighters. We also had the help of over 300 re-enactors, all of whom volunteered, having been believers in the cause. We also had professional actors.
The docudrama features several battle scenes, with cavalry, authentic weapons and high quality costumes. The Vendéans fought with an unconventional style, similar to that of the Indians at that time. When charging, they would drop to the ground each time salvos were shot at them. They were not forming compact ranks. The center of their force was quite thin, but their wings were strong to attack the flanks. The battle scenes depict this.
7.) Does the The Hidden Rebellion feature any notable commentators?
Yes, one who is published in America is Stephane Courtois. Stephane used to be a Maoist and was involved in an attempted military coup in the 70’s. He reverted ideologies, earned a PhD in history, and wrote the famous “The Black Book of Communism,” which calculated that over 200 million people have been killed as a result of communism in the world.
I mention that because the Vendée is to the French Revolution what Auschwitz is to the Nazis. Imagine the cultural weight of that fact! When and if this becomes well known, it can change the public debate everywhere in the world. People can be free to say: “You, super liberal man sound like a communist. And communists have killed three times more people than the Nazis. The French Revolution has even committed a genocide!”
So, part of what motivated me was to be a part of this movement that associates over-centralized governments with tyranny and what should be now called the French Genocide.
Remember, that all super liberal people swear by the French Revolution. Well, their symbol committed a genocide in France and inspired 200 million deaths in the 20th century.
8.) What do you hope to teach modern man by exposing the atrocities of the French Revolution?
First, for those who are still seduced by the concepts of super-centralization and socialism, to inform them that centralization and socialism can be the cause, and has been the cause of some of the worst, maybe even the worst atrocities, of the 20th century.
Also, to warn them that this “humanism”, which was first applied during the French Revolution and culminated into communism, is a quasi-religion and a very oppressive one. It wants to over-regulate both the material and the cultural life of people. Other system do not, Free-Market does not tell you what book to read. The Christian concept of "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's” does not force you to be taught in school a common core.
Look at the present tyranny of Political Correctness, the fruits of liberalism. It is a form of tyranny over the minds. For now, you just lose a job for not speaking the liberal catechism in universities and even companies like Google. Will it stay at that?
Not only people are micromanaged in the material part of their life, but also in what they think and what they say. This is about total power: it wants to have power over the bodies (as in an over regulated economy) but also over the minds. How much more of a prison does one want? It wants to be total. It’s called a totalitarism.
My production wants also to support the people who think they can stay neutral, or those who feel defeated.
The Hidden Rebellion shows that the loss of liberty would not be too difficult to stop if a little bit more people spoke up against it. Basically, we do not have enough heroes.
And if they feel like they are losing, let them not believe this life’s impression. Losing grip over our society may only be for this lifetime, it does not mean that one is losing in the long-term. The victory may be seen many generations in the future. After all, the French Revolution began centuries before in the minds of Rousseau and Voltaire.
We are not called to be masters of history, but we are called to be good soldiers.
9.) How can people help The Hidden Rebellion see its completion?
Thank you for asking. I still have about two months of work. So we are not far for completion. As an independent producer, I used my retirement and the help of people in both France and America. I have been a beggar, a homeless, and a happy man because of this mission.
Three more months will cost about $20,000 to compensate all those graphic designers, editors, and writers who believe in this cause. I can tell you that those creators’ passion is rising. We get a lot more quality and initiatives because we built an international docudrama for a just-cause. Every week we get new archive materials, authentic music and national level actors.
Now, next week, the account is dry. But each time some financial hero appears. I hope it will be the same this time. So if your readers feel called to it, they should go on our support page, watch the trailer, support us and receive our thank you gifts in return. May they be blessed in standing up for the truth.
Thank you for giving us this interview, Daniel, and we really do wish you the best of luck with your film.