Ladj Ly, director of Les Misérables, a film about the spiral of violence between police and youngsters in a high-rise neighbourhood which he himself grew up in and which has been nominated for best foreign-language feature film at the Oscars, has said that he hoped his film would let young people 'know that you can start from nothing, from as low-down as it gets, and find yourself at the Oscars'.
When French general Pierre Cambronne, the commander of one of Napoleon's elite Old Guard regiments, was surrounded by British troops at the Battle of Waterloo he is said to have declared: “The Guard dies but does not surrender.” These heroic words were held up at the time as epitomising the nobleness of the spirit of “eternal” France. The snag, however, is that not only did General Cambronne in fact surrender, he also denied ever saying those words. However, the quotation was deemed sufficiently important that it later became the subject of an official investigation by the French state. Jean-Christophe Piot, a journalist specialising in historical topics, explains.