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The empire of the series. “Kaamelott”: Louis de Funès and Jacques Audiard reunited in Alexandre Astier

Alexandre Astier plays King Arthur in the “Kaamelot” series. (MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

We are at the same time with the Monty Pythons, with Mister Bean, Louis de Funès and Michel Audiard. In 2003, Alexandre Astier, 31, actor and musician – he spent 14 years at the conservatory and plays the double bass – writes and directs a short film of 15 minutes. He embodies a destitute King Arthur when he struggles to explain to the Knights of the Round Table their mission to search for the Grail. It’s funny, irreverent, well written. Bruno Solo and Yvan Le Bolloch present it to the producer of Cafe Camera which gives it carte blanche to replace the series on M6. On paper, Kaamelott is a bloated series.

Historical, in costume, located in Great Britain which is still called Brittany. But the project is daring in the absurd lineage of Monty Python and their film Sacred grail. Alexandre Astier brings a French Cartesian touch: no more bombastic dialogues of the Middle Ages. Fan of dialogue writer Michel Audiard and of the film The Cave is fighting back, he puts in the mouths of the characters anachronistic lines that hit the mark.

Knights are each more stupid and incompetent than the next. To motivate his troops, Alexandre Astier, alias Arthur, takes the rhythm and accents of Louis de Funès. His wife Guenièvre is a sluggish Auvergne, Lancelot a not very fine knight. Perceval a real idiot. The public is asking for more. Four million viewers per evening. As time goes by, the series gains in breadth and depth. After the first seasons composed of sketches, place for more consistent episodes of seven minutes until a sixth season entitled Book 6 tour at Cinecitta studios in Rome.

The story thickens with the barbarian invasions, the departure of Guinevere, an increasingly dictator Lancelot and a King Arthur who loses the north. The film that comes out this week is the culmination of Alexandre Astier: he is still in the oven and in the mill, author, director, composer, actor and even editor. Say that Kaamelott on TV, some viewers talked about it like: “‘More beautiful life’ without the cutesy side.”

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