Gerard Depardieu Plans Film About French Fighter Pilots

Gerard Depardieu

The actor tells TV viewers in Belarus he wants to make "historically accurate" film about the Normandie-Nieman fighter squadron.

Gerard Depardieu wants to make a movie about the French fighter aces who flew alongside Red Air Force pilots over the Eastern Front during World War II.

The French actor — who holds dual Russian citizenship granted personally by President Vladimir Putin in 2013 — says he wants to make a "historically accurate" movie about the Normandie-Nieman regiment, one of only two allied air units to have served alongside Russian forces during the war. The other was a British fighter squadron sent to help in the defense of Moscow.

"The project Normandie-Nieman will be based on the testimonies of people participating in those events, including [wartime French] General de Gaulle, who described it in his memoirs," Depardieu said during a visit to Minsk, Belarus.

Speaking on state television channel Belarus 1, Depardieu added that he wished to "recreate the truth, the real story of the regiment."

Too often wartime history was rewritten or distorted, he said. "It is just people's ignorance, who don't know history or who deliberately distort it," the actor added. 

The Normandie-Nieman regiment was made up of three fighter squadrons of the French Air Force, supplied and serviced by the Russians on the Eastern Front during World War II. It was founded in 1943 when a group of French pilots and ground crew from the Free French Forces commanded by de Gaulle were sent to Moscow to assist the Red Air Force. Flying Soviet-supplied Yak fighters, the unit was responsible for destroying 273 enemy aircraft between March 1943 and May 1945.

In 1960, French director Jean Dreville and Soviet Damir Viatich-Berezhnykh collaborated on a film Normandie-Nieman about the creation of the famous unit.

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