Director-producer Luc Besson has taken aim at France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, making him one of the few French artists to speak out about the election that is seen as pivotal decision amid the rising tide of nationalism sweeping across the U.S., U.K. and Europe.
In a long letter titled “The Great Illusion” posted Saturday on his Facebook and Instagram accounts, Besson denounced the racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic roots of Le Pen’s Front National party and the ways in which she has soften her image and rebranded her party to widen her base. Le Pen is facing a runoff against centrist politician Emmanuel Macron in the final round of the election set for May 7.
“Her hair is trimmed, her teeth whitened, and her wardrobe revitalized. And, every day, carefully crafted talking points are spouted by the party’s leaders across every form of media to reach every potential customer,” Besson wrote. “Can you feel the scam coming together? Special offer — real bargain — factory price? An action of humanization to make it acceptable? However, (by definition) the devil is the devil and when he pretends to change it’s to abuse us better.”
A vocal opponent of France’s Front National party, Besson has a history of working with minority actors and crews, as well as engaging with diverse communities from underprivileged suburbs near Paris.
Besson, for instance, launched l’Ecole de la Cite, a tuition-free film school located in the Parisian suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, which welcomes students from all over the world and is meant to break the mold of elitist French film schools like La Femis.
Besson’s post has received over 61,000 likes on Facebook but has not yet been followed by similar protests from other film personalities. Two weeks before the first round of the election, however, over 100 artists, including Lea Seydoux, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Jeanne Moreau, Tahar Rahim and Amos Gitaï, signed a petition to protest the Front National.
France has been highly divided following the first round of the election last month. Many French voters have likened the presidential runoff as choosing between “the plague or cholera.” Voter turnout is expected to hit record low, which could be enough to push Le Pen to the top.
Here is Luc Besson’s full letter:
THE GREAT ILLUSION