Falling in love through Sign Language in Ceasefire

English translation: Ixone Sáenz Paraíso

"When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die”, said the French philosopher and writer Jean Paul Sartre. “Ceasefire is also a French film in co-production with Belgium. The film shows us another perspective on the war: those who do not die and return with a disability. This is where a Sign Language teacher comes in.

Cartel de la película franco belga Cessez-le-feu

Although the film was released in 2016, it did not reach US cinemas until April 2017. At the time, the film received very good reviews in France, although reception has been mixed in other countries. The synopsis is as follows:
In the early 1920s, Georges Laffont, traumatized by the horrific trench warfar, decides to leave his life behind and travel to West Africa into the vast territories of Upper Volta in the company of Diofo, artist and also survivor of the Great War. From village to village, Georges uses Diofo's talents as a griot to recruit the villagers as labour for plantations in Ghana. But this adventure leads him to a dead-end, and he comes back to Nantes where his brother Marcel, a war invalid, lives with their mother's. After the war in Europe, life went on without him. Georges will desperately try to find his place, with the help of Helene, a sign language teacher with whom he will have a tumultuous relationship, and his family, that he selfishly left behind. He will finally attempt to heal their wounds... (IMDB)

Céline Sallette’s Sign Language learning process

Hélène is the Sign Language teacher who teaches the protagonist's brother, Georges, whom the war has made silent. The role of Hélène was played by Céline Sallette, a leading French actress with 40 films in her acting career, even under the command of director Sofia Coppola in Marie Antoinette.

La actriz Céline Sallette en Alto el fuego
Shot from the movie Ceasefire with the actress Célinne Sallette in the role of Sign Language teacher

Céline learnt French Sign Language (LSF) for two months for the film with the personal trainer Nathalie Roche, a professional with an extensive CV in film, television and theater. The actress said she was fascinated by Sign Language and the form of communication she had to establish in her role at the film. However, her learning process was limited to the lines of the script she had to say in Sign Language. It should not have been easy for her, as a year later she declared in an interview that she did not remember anything she learnt.

Naturally, other characters in the film also had to learn French Sign Language, such as Grégory Gadebois in the role of the war-traumatized brother and, to a lesser extent, Romain Duris.

Por supuesto, también otros personajes de la película tuvieron que aprender lengua de signos francesa, como Grégory Gadebois en el papel del hermano traumatizado por la guerra y, en menor medida, Romain Duris.

This is the trailer of the movie with English subtitles:

Deaf, dumb or what?

The film's director, Emmanuel Courcol, reflects the horrors of World War I with more than six million wounded and dedicates it to his grandfather who fought in the war. The film reflects the forgetfulness suffered by soldiers after returning from the war and their difficulties in returning to civilian life, many people suffering from trauma and developing incomprehensible pathologies for the time (1920s). The protagonist's brother loses speech, but you will have to see the movie to understand it.

Los actores Grégory Gadebois y Romain Duris en un fotograma de la película Alto el fuego
Actors Grégory Gadebois and Romain Duris in a shot from the movie Ceasefire Grégory Gadebois (left) as the traumatized post-World War I soldier who loses speech alongside Romain Duris (right), lead actor in Ceasefire

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