A Self-Made Hero (1996) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Set in France at the end of World War II Albert Dehousse finds out his father wasn't a war hero and his mother is a collaborator. He leaves his wife and goes to Paris. Gradually he inveigles himself with the resistance movement. They trust him and he helps them trace collaborators.


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  • The story is told mainly in the present tense and also in retrospective interview clips including several by the protagonist many years later. Our hero is first shown inventing stories as a French boy in a small town between WW1 and WW2. As a young man he meets a local girl, marries her and is employed by her father. On the liberation of France he runs away to Paris where chance encounters lead to his learning important lessons in begging, sex and employment as means of survival. Following the end of the war in France he deliberately inveigles himself into Resistance circles, copies the speech and knowledge of genuine veterans and is eventually regarded as a hero. His contacts and apparent experience result in his being sent to occupied Germany as a military observer. Here he is coincidentally forced to order the summary execution of several French defectors to the SS following which he confesses his lies. He is jailed for a short period of time on an unrelated charge following which he is rehabilitated to become an international political success.

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