Denigration of the Great Revolution

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

The latest Assassin’s Creed video game takes place in Paris during the French Revolution, and French leftists are appalled that the heroes of the People are depicted as bloodthirsty savages:

The former leftist French presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, called it “propaganda against the people, the people who are [portrayed as] barbarians, bloodthirsty savages,” while the “cretin” that is Marie-Antoinette and the “treacherous” Louis XVI are portrayed as noble victims. “The denigration of the great Revolution is a dirty job to instill more self-loathing and déclinisme in the French,” he told Le Figaro (link in French). The secretary general of the Left Front, Alexis Corbière, said on his blog (link in French):

To all those who will buy Assassin’s Creed: Unity, I wish them a good time, but I also tell them that the pleasure of playing does not stop you from thinking. Play, yes, but do not let yourself be manipulated by those who make propaganda.

Ubisoft, the maker of the Assassin’s Creed series of video games, which has been going since 2007 and has sold more than 70 million copies, is in fact French. One of the makers of the game replied (link in French) that Assassin’s Creed: Unity is a “consumer video game, not a history lesson” but did say that his team hired a historian and specialists on the Terror and other aspects of the Revolution. Le Monde lays out seven errors in the game here (in French).


  1. Grasspunk says:

    OK, that looks like one Christmas present sorted out with the added bonus of causing conflict in my son’s history classes and letting us have the discussion about teachers having to maintain authority over a bunch of kids while also teaching about things they don’t really know a lot about. Oh and I guess we could cover leftism in French politics and whitewashing history to make modern groups look better. Man I should get this for all my kids. Do they do Barbie and the Twelve Headless Princesses?

  2. Earplugs says:

    Wow. Le Monde clearly didn’t play the game or understand how games like that are made.

    Number 7, about the anachronism of having the statue of liberty in Paris in 1898 isn’t an error: It’s flatly stated as such in the game. A in-game commentator specifically says it’s temporally out-of-place and is the result of a simulator error! Since the simulator is literally crashing down around you and you’re only in the Bella Epoque because you escaped through a time-rift in the revolutionary era, it’s completely in-line with the narrative.

    A lot of the other “errors” are simply historical conflations obviously done for developmental simplicity. So far the game has had episodes spanned from 1789-1800, they’re clearly not going to redo the cityscape and character models for every single year.

    So, yes, They have just one flag model (#1).

    They’re not going to make detailed buildings just to have them disappear/appear based on chronology preventing your character from exploring them at will (#2, #4)

    They’re not going to make a bunch of checks for which songs the mob can sing when (#3, though I haven’t personally experienced that one)

    Street signs are nice for navigation, so yes, they have them even though they’re out of place (#5)

    And for #6, the metro was clearly under construction, although they have running trains for drama.

    They even missed one. I’ve run into guillotines at 1790-1971, that’s out of place too.

    The game isn’t perfect, but it’s closer to the actual truth than the propaganda. For instance, the historical database shatters many common cathedral misconceptions about the revolution. It points out that the Bastille had only 7 prisoners, that Les Miserables isn’t about this French Revolutionary (and thus implicitly Jean ValJean isn’t fleeing royalist oppression!). Etc…

    I say, it’s actually quite fun to save regular folk from the depredations of the San-Culottes and Les Enragées. The game actually rewards you(!!!) for intervening when they harass passersby for looking “too royalist.”

    I was shocked! No wonder the leftists are pissed; in many ways the game gets the time-period right! The few times they have “royalists” as villains, they’re usually invented characters. All of the predominate revolutionary villains are invariably real!

  3. Isegoria says:

    It really says something that one can credibly object to a depiction of The Terror as the work of bloodthirsty barbarians. Do the French really believe that La Terreur was terrible?

  4. Rollory says:

    As a Frenchman and a Moldbug-influenced royalist sympathizer, this sounds like something I’m going to have to get.

    La Terreur is one of those things that the French know about but don’t like to think too hard about. Sort of like how Americans really really believe in “all men are created equal” while also getting really upset when someone acts on that principle and hands out citizenship to 5 million illegals — because, hey, they’re the same as you, right? And America is just an idea, right? Basically, they know it was horrible, will acknowledge individual horrorfacts about it, but drawing the logical conclusions from that about the legitimacy of the republic is something they’re emotionally unprepared for as yet. (For comparison, the St.-Barthélemy’s Day massacre is completely integrated, accepted, recognized as being a part what made France. Maybe another hundred years and another regime change …)

    Also, the revolution led to Napoleon, and Napoleon is the hero, second only to Jeanne d’Arc. That both N1 and N3 took power in reactionary counterrevolutions against leftist excess, and promptly implemented monarchies — the exact opposite of the republican ideal — is something that tends to get glossed over in the popular mind.

    I don’t know if Philippe de Villiers has commented on this yet. Would be interesting to see what he’d have to say. He’s the MP for the Vendee (a region which stayed royalist and suffered the worst excesses, in some ways worse than Sherman in Georgia), and is of aristocratic ancestry.

  5. Earplugs says:

    As I said, it isn’t perfect, and I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s clearly an example of how the truth bleeds through the pages of any honestly examined yet sufficiently distant history. If you make even a desultory effort towards “wie es eigentlich gewesen” some conclusions are unavoidable, even to those otherwise committed to the Cathedral.

    I’ll report back when I’ve finished it. Rollory, I do know that at some point there is a sequence in Vendée. Should be interesting.

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