The Paris criminal court on Thursday acquitted the novelist Caroline Bongrand, whom filmmaker Luc Besson was suing for defamation regarding the film Eiffel on the construction of the famous Parisian monument. The novelist had affirmed in a book and various media that Luc Besson had wanted to appropriate her scenario. It was ultimately not him who directed the film released in 2021 with Romain Duris and Emma Mackey in the main roles, but Martin Bourboulon.

Caroline Bongrand published the book Eiffel et moi in spring 2021. She details the incredible journey of the film before it was brought to the screen, twenty years of having to convince producers and directors and to amend her script which she had started writing around 1997. After Giannina Facio, the wife by Ridley Scott “fan of the concept”, it was Luc Besson then “in the firmament” who was interested, she says, but on the condition, according to her, of putting his name alone on the scenario, a proposal made “ eye to eye”.

Also read: Eiffel, by Martin Bourboulon: love with all his might

“The insistence and the arguments presented in support of Luc Besson’s request, which in themselves are admissible as the author underlines, are part of the register of a negotiation, during which the “This simply highlights the economic reality implied by such a project,” said the court in its judgment consulted by AFP. It was a “proposal that she was free to accept or refuse, which the reader understands all the more easily since it is indicated that he was content to insist “kindly” », he continues.

No element “corroborates the use of insistence exceeding a commercial approach”, continues the court, and “Luc Besson’s proposal, even if it was painfully experienced by the defendant, has nothing illicit or illegal. immoral”, and the “act imputed is not detrimental to the honor and consideration of Luc Besson” and therefore “is not defamatory”.

The feature film tells the passionate story between engineer Gustave Eiffel and a young woman named Adrienne Bourgès, a youthful love who, according to the film, inspired the construction in 1887 of the monument that has become iconic and among the most visited in the world. Seen in France by nearly 1.5 million cinema spectators, the film was released in theaters in the United States in 2022, and received a César nomination in the best costume category.