As an adjunct to my belated post on Bastille Day, I offer this video clip from the movie Casablanca, a scene in Rick’s Cafe Americain in which Paul Henreid as the resistance leader Victor Lazlo leads a rousing chorus of La Marseillaise to drown out German officers singing Die Wacht am Rhein. Both songs are rather bloodthirsty patriotic hymns. Never mind that Victor Lazlo is supposed to be a Czech resistance leader, and that Morocco was in colonial subjection to France. It makes no sense, but I always tear up when I watch it.
Viva La France!
Here’s a full version of the anthem with lyrics in French and amusing English translation:
La Marseillaise was written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in 1792 and adopted in 1795 as the nation’s first anthem. The melody is an adaptation of a theme written in 1781 by Giovan Battista Viotti. It became the rallying call of the French Revolution and received its name because it was first sung on the streets by volunteers (fédérés) from Marseille upon their entry into Paris on 30 July 1792 after a young volunteer from Montpellier called François Mireur had sung it at a patriotic gathering in Marseille and the troops adopted it as the marching song of the National Guard of Marseille. A newly graduated medical doctor, Mireur later became a general under Napoléon Bonaparte and died in Egypt at 28.