“The adventures of young Voltaire”: when Arouet became Voltaire

Yes, Voltaire was young! The old philosopher cultivating his garden in his retirement in Ferney, the man with the emaciated face immortalized by the sculptor Houdon also lived through green years under the name of Arouet. They are the ones evoked by the series in four chapters produced by Alain Tasma and co-written with Georges-Marc Benamou, which France 3 rebroadcasts on Thursdays October 27 and November 2.

In a few minutes of introduction, the viewer goes from the death of Voltaire (played by Bernard Le Coq) to… his birth, 83 years earlier. The twirling child who already “melts” those around him loses his mother at the age of 7. First great sorrow of the one who now feels like a stranger at home, his father (Éric Caravaca) not knowing how to unravel the mystery or channel the insolent energy of the child.

Gifted, charming, annoying

Studies at Louis-le-Grand, then “governed” by the Jesuits, offered the gifted commoner the opportunity to form solid and joyful friendships with noble figures, including the future Duke of Richelieu. We follow with fun the games and escapades of this group of friends. In the main role, Thomas Solivérès does quite well, even if his register proves to be a little monotonous in the long run, in the effervescence as in the dejection.

“Voltaire or freedom of thought”

Feminine adventures, rivalries between authors – it is already better to be with Voltaire than against him – and political intrigues between supporters and opponents of the Regent dispute every moment of the life of the young man. Confident in his talent, ambitious, unable to resist the power of a good word, our hero dabbles in exile, the Bastille – where he takes the name of Voltaire –, disgrace and beatings.

He seeks the company of the great but does not support any condescension, convinced that he is worth them all and that the fight against intolerance will be for him the mother of battles. While consolidating his reign over the repertoire of the Comédie-Française, the place where he sought from his youth to triumph without sharing. In the hearts of the actresses as in that of the public.

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