Start the Revolution Without Me

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This article is about the film. For the Kaiser Chiefs album, see The Future is Medieval.
Start the Revolution Without Me
Start the revolution without me.jpg
Promotional movie poster for the film
Directed by Bud Yorkin
Produced by Bud Yorkin
Written by Lawrence J. Cohen
Fred Freeman
Starring Gene Wilder
Donald Sutherland
Hugh Griffith
Jack MacGowran
Billie Whitelaw
Orson Welles
Victor Spinetti
Ewa Aulin
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • February 4, 1970 (1970-02-04)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Start the Revolution Without Me is a 1970 film directed by Bud Yorkin, starring Gene Wilder, Donald Sutherland, Hugh Griffith, Jack MacGowran, Billie Whitelaw, Orson Welles (playing himself as narrator) and Victor Spinetti. The comedy is set in revolutionary France where two peasants are mistaken for the famous swordsmen, the Corsican Brothers. It can be considered a parody of a number of works of historical fiction about the French Revolution, including Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and Dumas' The Corsican Brothers and The Man in the Iron Mask.


Two sets of identical twins, played by Wilder and Sutherland, are accidentally switched at birth. One set, Phillipe and Pierre DeSisi, is aristocratic and haughty, while the other set, Charles and Claude Coupé, is poor and dim-witted. On the eve of the French Revolution, both sets find themselves entangled in palace intrigues.



Start the Revolution Without Me authors Fred Freeman and Lawrence J. Cohen were nominated for a WGA award for "Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen" in 1971.

Treatment of History[edit]

Billie Whitelaw and Hugh Griffith as the King and Queen of France

As a spoof, the film has no pretense of historical accuracy. Louis XVI, who was 38 years old at the time of his death, is played by Hugh Griffith, who was in his late fifties when the film was shot. He is portrayed as a bumbling cuckold. Marie Antoinette, here called simply Marie, is portrayed as a nymphomaniac. The French Revolution is depicted as being led exclusively by the impoverished masses, while most revolutionary leaders were actually middle or upper-class citizens. The film also portrays the man in the iron mask, who actually lived during the reign of Louis XIV. The princess Christina from Belgium is also a person in the movie, but in reality she does not exist and Belgium was only founded in 1830.

External links[edit]