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Joseph Bologne's Story Is Told In Chevalier

April 20th, 2023Joseph Bologne's Story Is Told In Chevalier

CHEVALIER opens April 21st.

Some of the most easily recognizable names associated with classical music include composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, to name a few. However, after audiences see CHEVALIER – which is coming to AMC Theatres on Friday, April 21, 2023 – fans of the classics may be singing the praises of an exceptionally talented and highly influential artist from the same era, but one whom they very likely had never before heard of, by the name of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

This unsung hero of 18th century music is the subject of this new film, which has already been recognized as an AMC Artisan Film and has been given special attention by the Council on the AMC African American Experience – an initiative that prioritizes diversity in the theatre chain – as part of a showcase of films that make Black voices heard. Learn about how Joseph Bologne’s story is told in CHEVALIER, who is directing the film, and who is portraying the man himself in the following, spoiler-free breakdown.

Untold Story Of A Musical Genius

Typically, when a new music biopic hits the big screen, audiences flock to the theatre with an interest in learning things about their favorite artists that they did not know before. However, CHEVALIER is a comparatively rare case of a music biopic that, for most audiences, will serve as an introduction to the life and talents of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Born in Guadeloupe, this son of white, wealthy plantation owner, George Bologne de Saint-Georges, and a Black slave named Nanon, would go on to become known as one of the most respected musicians, remarkably skilled fencing experts, and pivotal revolutionary figures in Europe for his time.

Like many films that follow the lives of notable public figures, CHEVALIER takes an inventive approach to depicting Bologne’s musical prowess, such as in one sequence in which he asks to join Mozart onstage in the middle of a performance and absolutely blows him away with his spectacular skills on the violin. When speaking with AMC Theatres about the movie, director Stephen Williams said that this exact event did not actually happen, but was inspired by a real, similar encounter between Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.

“This felt like the perfect analog for Joseph's virtuosity. The comparisons that were being made between himself and Mozart, and the perfect launchpad for our movie and our telling of our version of his life as a rockstar.”

Directed By Stephen Williams

Helming CHEVALIER – which was written by Stefani Robinson – proved to be a very personal experience for Stephen Williams, but also for most of the other creators involved.

“There was so much of myself that I was able to find was consonant with Joseph Bologne's life. So, it was a very kind of personal journey for me and for many of us. Many of the collaborators found their own way in, and their Joseph represented some facet of their own lives in a way that was resonant for them. And so we were all kind of rowing the boat in the same direction and having this kind of very potent experience together.”

Not only does CHEVALIER mark the first time Williams has helmed a film inspired by the life of a historical figure, but it is also his first feature-length effort in more than two decades – the last being a made-for-TV crime thriller called VERDICT IN BLOOD. He would spend the time in between directing episodes of acclaimed hit TV series like AMC’s apocalyptic survivalist drama “The Walking Dead” or HBO’s 10-episode companion to Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel, “Watchmen” – the latter of which earned him an Emmy Award as an executive producer.

Starring Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Joseph Bologne is not the first real-life individual whom Kelvin Harrison Jr. has portrayed on screen, having previously played Black Panther party leader Fred Hampton in Aaron Sorkin’s Netflix original OscarⓇ nominee, THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 and another important musician, B.B. King, in more recent Academy AwardⓇ nominee, ELVIS. He has also been cast as Martin Luther King Jr. for the upcoming fourth season of National Geographic’s historical anthology series, “Genius,” and as prolific artist Jean-Michel Basquiat for SAMO LIVES, which is set to be directed by Julius Onah.

Among the talents joining the BAFTA nominee in the CHEVALIER cast are Lucy Boynton as Marie Antoinette (with whom Bologne would perform in her royal court), Samara Weaving as Marquise Marie-Josephine de Montalembert (with whom he would share a romantic affair), and Ronke Adekoluejo as his mother, Nanon. Academy Award nominee Minnie Driver also stars as Marie-Madeleine Guimard, Marton Csokas plays Marie-Josephine’s husband, Marc-Rene de Montalembert, and Joseph Prowen appears as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Experience the life of a vastly underrated genius of classical music when CHEVALIER comes to an AMC Theatres location near you!

CHEVALIER opens April 21st.

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