The world of French genealogy has been in a tizzy about the second season of the France 3 genealogy detective television series, Origines. So much so that the second episode was given a special viewing at this year's genealogy fair at the Archives nationales in Paris.
We have now watched two episodes of Origines and feel a readiness to report on it. This readiness is tempered by a rather dreary hesitancy. We are reminded of a story told about Katharine Hepburn. It relates that she had been sent a script by a very successful director, who wanted her to play the lead. She read it. She sat at her desk and began to write her response. She made many beginnings, along the lines of :
"Dear John, Thank you very much for sending this interesting script....."
"My friend, I have always admired your work, but this......"
"How the blazes could you send me this tripe?!"
And so on. After each failure, she tore up the page and began anew. Finally, unable to manage any response that was both polite and expressed her true opinion, she gathered all of the torn pages, jammed them into an envelope and sent them to the director.
To spare you our false beginnings: Origines has worn and oft-recycled plots, leaden dialogue, execrable background music, and precious little genealogy. However, it does contain some small elements of interest. The interior shots are curious, most of the actors are attractive, people eat almost as many pastries as do the title characters in the film Cousin, Cousine, the street shots of Angoulême are rather pretty, there are presentations of nuggets of French history, such as the cynical chicanery of the government's Bumidom (le Bureau pour le développement des Migrations intéressant les Départements d'Outre-mer) through which it lied to people to trick them to come to France as cheap labour.
We would have liked to have been able to suggest this series were it to have offered the opportunity to observe some genealogical research that could have been of use. The only skills that could remotely be considered genealogical that we have noted so far have been:
- Rifling through a dead person's private papers without a relative's permission
- Checking a dead woman's DNA against that of her living father without his permission
- Accessing the immigration file held by a Ministry on a living person without her knowledge
- Searching on the Internet
- Checking names and faces on a facebook group page
The first three may be possible for the police, but not for you, Dear Readers. The last two are not worthy of comment. Sad to say, we cannot recommend Origines.
©2014 Anne Morddel