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Lafayette in the Americas, the search for a destiny

2020 • 90' • French & English

Poster of Lafayette in the Americas, the search for a destiny

Director(s): Herlé Jouon • Producer(s): Grand Angle Productions • Coproducer(s): ARTE & TV5 Monde • Format(s): HD



At the very beginnings of the birth of the United States of America is a legendary battle in which French and Americans fought together against the English: the battle of Yorktown. In this 90 minutes docu-fiction, we will relive events as if we were there during the nine days of the confrontation. And we will discover the political and strategic motivations of an unprecedented transatlantic alliance, which would lay the foundations for a new world order that finds itself today in a period of questioning and turmoil.


On October 19, 1781, the siege of Yorktown, Virginia, ended with the victory of the Franco-American forces led by George Washington. After nine days of fierce battle, the former British colonial settlers emancipated themselves from British rule and the United States of America was born, laying the foundations for the new world order.

At the start, however, their victory was far from certain. The allied forces were, in fact, a ragtag and hastily formed army, largely made up of American farmers with no military experience, French officers trained in Old World methods and Prussian mercenaries. Yet, thanks to the bold strategy of exceptional generals who went to great lengths to confuse their enemy and thanks to the use of revolutionary new weapons and canons, the Continental Army found the means of overtaking the troops of the English general Cornwallis.

In this unprecedented 90-minute docu-fiction, we will relive the nine days of the siege of Yorktown by placing ourselves in the footsteps of two heroes. Nothing had predestined these two men to one day find themselves on the same battlefield: the Marquis de Lafayette, a young man French aristocrat hungry for glory and adventure, and George Washington, a wealthy tobacco planter and delegate at the First Continental Congress.

We will also discover the behind-the-scenes origins of the French intervention in the revolt of the American colonists: the sophisticated communication campaign of the brilliant American scientist Benjamin Franklin to obtain the support of the Kingdom of France; the secret diplomatic game of Louis XVI and his Foreign Minister, Charles Gravier de Vergennes, to support this revolt with the utmost discretion.

At the very center of our show, the fictional reenactments will be particularly stirring because of an extremely faithful treatment of the events. It will feature not only the battleground on the green hills around Yorktown or the bay of the Chesapeake (where we will bring back to life the famous naval battle with special effects) in this month of October 1781, but also the City Tavern of Philadelphia, the Palace of Versailles, or Benjamin Franklin's Paris office. Above all, primary importance will be placed on the actors’ depictions. Through intense historical dialogues and a suspense-filled and tense plot, we will relive these nine essential days from the inside.

For their part, the interviews of historians and specialists of the period, both French and American, will shed light on the high stakes of the battle and its geopolitical context, clarified by unpublished correspondences and recently discovered military maps.

The central focus to illuminate the Battle of Yorktown in a new light is not our only ambition. In a broader scope, the film will also show how, under the impetus of exceptional men such as Washington, Lafayette, Benjamin Franklin, Louis XVI, and Rochambeau, a new great nation, soon to become the world's leading power, was born. How the young Marquis de Lafayette, then only 24 years old, would become the hero of the American cause alongside General Washington, the future first President of the United States of America. And how the French monarchy and Louis XVI, though great winners in this battle, were entering into their political upheavals.

At a time today when, on both sides of the Atlantic, people are tending to lose the thread of their history and to seek new values, it is particularly appropriate to recall how two of the world’s brightest democracies were born, and in what ways The Battle of Yorktown contributed to forming the present day geopolitical landscape that is being deeply questioned today.


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