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Parcours de visite : “Histoire d’un tournage”


Centre ancien
12200 Villefranche-de-Rouergue

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All the light we cannot see

Story of a shoot

In September 2021, the Netflix platform announced its project to adapt the bestseller All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2015 Pulitzer Prize, nearly 20 million copies sold), for a release set for 2023 in the form four-episode miniseries.

The story is that of Marie-Laure (French) and Werner (German), whose destinies will cross in Saint-Malo at the end of the Second World War.

Werner grew up in a German orphanage where he developed a passion for radio technique; he joined an elite school before being sent to the front.

In June 1940, Marie-Laure, blind, left Paris with her father Daniel to take refuge with her great-uncle Étienne in Saint-Malo. Marie-Laure and Etienne will then embark on resistance actions.

The choice of Villefranche-de-Rouergue as a filming location.

If the story takes place in Saint-Malo during the Occupation, the Breton town no longer has its old center, destroyed at the end of the war. Director Shawn Levy and his teams therefore set out to find a typical French town of the 1940s, with tall buildings and narrow streets.

It was finally the chief decorator Simon Elliott who came up with the idea for Villefranche-de-Rouergue, remembering a meal taken ten years earlier on the Place Notre-Dame.

In February 2022, after several locations, the producers made a filming request to the town hall of Villefranche, a request which was accepted.

Preparing for the shoot.

In March 2022, the production reserves all the accommodation still available for the workers who will soon be arriving. A large cast of extras is launched: 500 people (from 6 to 75 years old) are wanted to play the inhabitants of Saint-Malo but also German and American soldiers.

In June 2022, a hundred workers are busy building street decorations. Dozens of shop windows were transformed or recreated in the style of the 1940s. Little by little, the city was transformed into a gigantic cinema set.

An extraordinary shoot.

Filming takes place from July 5 to 20, 2022. Actors Mark Ruffalo (Daniel Leblanc), Hugh Laurie (Etienne Leblanc), Aria Mia Loberti (Marie-Laure) and Louis Hofmann (Werner) are present.

After the street scenes, it is the scenes of destruction that are shot, with impressive decorations of rubble and vehicles on fire: Saint-Malo seems to be crumbling under the bombs.

On July 20, an incredible scene from Liberation is shot: 300 extras are mobilized for the occasion. A tank and American vehicles cross the Place Notre-Dame, in a setting of ruins, in the midst of popular jubilation.

A memorable atmosphere.

The atmosphere that permeated Villefranche-de-Rouergue during this month of July 2022 left an unforgettable memory to its inhabitants, who lived in Hollywood time, rubbing shoulders with international stars, strolling on an open-air cinema set, observing the meticulous work of the technical teams.

Scan the QR codes that you will find on the visit route and get the images of the places at the time of filming. Document available at the Tourist Office and at the reception of Villefranche de Rouergue Town Hall.

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