Jean Yanne is not just an actor who left his mark on French cinema. He is also a director. In 1982, he released his sixth film entitled “A quarter to two before Jesus Christ”. A feature film whose filming almost ended in fistfights.
Quarter to two before Christ : deluge of stars
One of Alain Chabat’s inspirations for his Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra probably comes from Quarter to two before Christ. In effect, the film released in 1982 has many similarities with the cult comedy of the 2000s : same historical context with the Antiquity of Caesar and Cleopatra, same meta humour, same voluntary anachronisms, and even parterre of stars. Thus, in addition to Jean Yanne who also plays in the film, there are the greatest actors of the time: Coluche, Michel Serrault, Michel Auclair, Mimi Coutelier, Françoise Fabian, Mimi Coutelier, Darry Cowl, André Pousse, Michel Constantin or even Paul Préboist.
sort of parody of Ben Hur, Quarter to two before Christ takes place during the reign of Julius Caesar. The latter thus spent his holidays in the North African colony of Rahatlocum. Yet in this small place, the revolt rumbles among the traders.
Released in 1982, Quarter to two before Christ is the third highest grossing box office of the year. In particular, it allows Jean Yanne to find a second wind in his career, he whose previous productions have been flops. However, critics at the time unanimously lambasted the comedy, considering it a turnip. It is necessary to wait for the multiple rebroadcasts on television so that the film becomes cult.
With a triple French, Italian and Tunisian technical team as well as a very long shoot, Quarter to two before Christ was considered, at the time, as one of the most expensive blockbusters in the history of French cinema. Nevertheless, it is not this budget that has been the most complicated to live with for Jean Yanne. In effect, the actor-director will have to deal with an unmanageable actor: Coluche.
The one who, at this time, was considered the revival of popular French comedy (alongside Pierre Richard) continues to multiply the antics, sometimes requiring multiple takes to be made (which costs money) . It should also be remembered that at this time, Coluche was not in the best shape of his life. Indeed, he was at that time in the midst of a divorce. The comedian therefore drowned his sorrows in alcohol and drugswhich was not to the taste of Jean Yanne who had a shoot to manage.
The relationship between the two men is so execrable that on several occasions, they fail to come to blows. It is finally Michel Serrault who manages to mediateallowing the filming of Quarter to two before Christ to be more peaceful.