Even by the low standard of historical films when it comes to historical accuracy, this film is pretty pathetic. The film’s existence, and certainly its design, owes more to the political requirements of the contemporary left than it does to any sort of devotion to the historical record of the titular Chevalier. While a few of the incidents of the film are true–the Chevalier was the son of a French planter on Guadelupe and a Senegalese slave woman and educated in Europe, he did have an affair with the wife of a French military leader, had an illegitimate child with said woman which was then exposed to death by the angry husband, and had to deal with violence at the hand of the cuckold husband, and his efforts to run the French Opera were sabotaged by a refusal of some of the leading ladies of the opera to serve under a mulatto–the film’s timespan is reduced, and numerous incidents of racism in the Chevalier’s life are outright fabricated to try to win sympathy with the supposed woke intended audience of this farrago.
There are many aspects of this film that are screwed up to a high degree. One of them is the chronology of the film, which makes the Chevalier appear to be far younger than he is by pushing events that took place in the 1770s to the period just before the French Revolution. The book invents estrangement between Joseph Bologne and the royal family and totally fails to portray his closeness with reformist elements within the royal family as well as with composers like Gluck, who is portrayed as a rival to Bologne here. The film also seeks to present the Cheavlier as being estranged from his family–when he is known to have lived for many years with his parents and then, after his father’s death, with his mother. Likewise, the film also fails to accurately portray his relationship with the French Revolution–which the idiotic makers of this film view to be a very good thing–where Bologne lost his position and was imprisoned as a victim of the French Revolution despite his ideals, a common fate for those who support revolutions, unfortunately, and the film says nothing about his efforts to serve the French campaign against race-warring Haitian revolutionaries in the 1790s or his own death in 1799.
This is not to say that everything about the film is bad. There are indeed good aspects to this film, even if the presentation and framing of the film is simply abysmal. The music of the Chevalier–padded by an effective film score that makes it seem more extensive than it is–comes off to good effect here. Those who are, like me, fond of classical music by such composers as Mozart, Haydn, and Pleyel will find the music of Bologne to be enjoyable, and it is definitely a high point here. Bologne, and other mixed-race French people of color like the younger Alexandre Dumas, are certainly worthy of having their life explored, and one would hope that future efforts to honor his memory are more faithful historical record than this one is. It would be a shame if the only films we get about such people are incompetent efforts made by people who foolishly cheer on self-destructive anarchical revolution and whose dialogue sounds like it was written in contemporary Marxist struggle sessions. Historical films, just like everything else, cannot help but be corrupted by the foul influence of contemporary leftist politics.