“Les Yeux d’Hélène”: when Mireille Darc sees double


TF1 opens Helen’s eyes in 1994. Don’t get me wrong, this is not about Hélène, the queen of sitcoms, who, with her fried whiting gaze and her “boys” shot with grenadine, has been panicking the audiences of chain late afternoon. No, we are talking about Hélène Charrière, whom viewers also know, because she had already been the heroine, two years earlier, of another great summer saga, hearts burned, which drained 10 million faithful for two months.

Hélène is Mireille Darc, an irremovable blond helmet, owner of the Reserve, a gleaming palace (at least on the brochure) on the Côte d’Azur, ready to do anything to keep her establishment, including letting go of the the vilest acts like sprinkling vitriol on the face of her rival. An unsuccessful strategy for her, fate having wanted this sordid attempt to turn against her and leave her permanently blind.

When begins Helen’s Eyes – subtle allusion to the blindness of our heroine – three years have passed. From the first episode, her rival is sent to the bottom of the ocean by the writers. But Hélène is there. Blind certainly, but always so dynamic. Unfortunately, nothing is going right: La Réserve is on the verge of bankruptcy, his son Christian (Pierre Cosso) is drowning in alcohol, his stepson is mute and, a misfortune that never comes alone, Bruno (Michel Duchaussoy ), her brother, has found nothing better than to pair up with the over-excited Danièle Évenou (or rather the unbearable Geneviève). Extra cream on this heavy pie from Saint-Tropez, disturbing twins (both played by Jean-Pierre Bouvier) have just landed in the region with the intention of getting their hands on his estate.

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The concept of the “evil twin”

In 1994, TF1 found its cruising speed in terms of sagas. It is no coincidence that Helen’s eyes was entrusted to the indestructible Jean Sagols, who, with Harvest Wind (Annie Girardot as a farmer) in 1988, managed to restore the image of these soap operas doped with painful family dramas. The recipe of the time is simple: sizes somewhat neglected by the cinema (Annie Girardot, Jacques Dufilho, Pierre Vaneck, Mireille Darc…), a beautiful theme song performed by a great French-speaking voice (Fabienne Thibeault or Nicole Croisille) and plots reminiscent of the French terroir, fallow fields and cow dung on the menu. To the point of giving ideas to France 2 which, in 1993, entrusted the keys to its Castle of Olives to Brigitte Fossey and Jacques Perrin. Big success at the end of the day and a 7 d’or, a real Grail in terms of television, for the actress.

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With Helen’s Eyes, the first channel “ripoline” the good soap opera à la papa, taking inspiration more and more boldly from what is done in the United States. The Fires of Lovewhich is a hit every afternoon on the channel, or Santa Barbara, huge success of the late 1980s, have been there. Between impossible loves, well-kept family secrets and blind revenge (uh… sorry, Hélène!), the production will therefore introduce a concept as old as the soap: the evil twin. By “evil twin”, we mean a slightly crazy brother capable of inflicting the worst horrors on the gentle heroes, twinship alone representing a sufficient explanation for this outburst of violence. More widespread than you might think, it above all offers the opportunity to pass a somewhat plan-plan intrigue with the blowtorch of anything big. The screenwriters of Helen’s eyes have therefore put their neurons on fire. Dominique and Frédéric Volvani are twins and incidentally very rich – think about it, they have rented the royal suite of the Reserve for the season! The first is a car racer, the other we don’t really know, but what is certain is that he suffers from a pretty little “helmet fart”.

Of course, Dominique, the good guy, falls in love with poor Hélène, to the point of blindly throwing himself into the fire that is ravaging the Reserve to save his beloved, whom he believes to be trapped by the flames. Without knowing, moreover, that the fire was lit by our nice little blind girl herself, who first with a single chisel cut caused a fatal short circuit, all for the sole purpose of touching the money. insurance, the venal! The chilled lover gets off with two bandages, three burnt tufts of hair and a few squirts of Mercurochrome, but his love remains intact.

Rather Hitchcock or Billy Wilder?

Faced with so much devotion, Frédéric feels abandoned, even though he swears to the great gods that he is not jealous and that he is ready to set his brother free. “After all, you say it yourself, we are not Siamese”, he swings at her… a hint of regret in his voice. It’s the beginning of the end: the crash in full 4e dimension will occur at the heart of episode 5 in a sequence as embarrassing as it is grotesque, bordering on bad parody. Unless Jean Sagols took himself for Hitchcock by making his “villain” a kind of hysterical Norman Bates adept in mom’s outfits…

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It is dark night. After pretending to decipher a large packet of paper in Braille, Hélène decides to go to bed. Egg-yellow pajamas in light cotton, she takes off her dark glasses, which she hasn’t taken off for three years, and slips under her flowery sheets – reassuring like those of our grandmothers – with all the lights on, her faithful dog at his feet. An owl hoots in the distance. Outside the building, a woman, as slender as a shot putter, carrot-colored bob, elegant green and blue “manif pour tous” suit, white scarf and Mentos candy necklace around her neck, threads her way through garden shrubs.

Impossible not to see that this intruder, with an uncertain taste in clothing, is none other than Frédéric le Maléfique, who, to commit his misdeed, has obviously decided to pay a strong tribute to the mythical performance of Jack Lemmon in the Some like it hot de Wilder… Psychopath but cinephile, then! Surely anxious not to be recognized by our beautiful blind (!), he puts on superfluous tights around his head.

Inside, Girella, the faithful dog, growls. It must be said that our criminal is making a hell of a racket, breaking a tile with a punch, after having taken care to cut it conscientiously with a small knife! On the other hand, if the loss of one sense can sharpen the others, this is not the case for Hélène, who falls asleep deeply. Either way, it’s already too late. Fred entered the living room, turning on the light, with a start. The guy scares himself, we are on top of credibility!

Hélène ends up putting on an elegant dressing gown and retrieves a small handgun from her Ikea office. And head for the stairs that lead to the living room. On the steps, the fat lady in her Sunday best is waiting for her, little scalpel in the air, still hooded. The music goes crescendo under the deafening barking of Girella.

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“Shut up, female dog,” the evil twin then orders in a high-pitched voice, vaguely borrowing from Renato’s La Cage aux Folles. Hélène panics (there is reason) and, thinking she is dealing with a burglar, launches into a rather crazy list of the few valuables in her possession, including silverware. “I didn’t come here to rob you, Hélène, I’m here to talk to you…” interrupts our madwoman, now rasping the r Edith Piaf way. There follows a series of threats and revelations swayed by the lady patroness, under the inopportune barking of the dog. Poor Hélène doesn’t understand a thing. Neither does the viewer. In fear, she randomly fires a shot, while the other continues to play the big scene from Act III.

The desperate race for the golden 7

” Offensive ! Hélène then orders, terrified, to her dog – guide dogs are well known for their ferocity. The animal runs down the stairs and throws itself on the intruder, who stabs it to death with forceful false gestures worthy of the best silent films. So much action must have out of breath our criminal, who suddenly decides to take off his tights (!) before leaving the scene of the crime, letting out demonic laughter: “That female dog is dead, bitch! launches this impolite, a little gratuitously all the same, before fleeing. “I’ll kill you,” yells Hélène three times, shooting in all directions. You’re wasting your breath. Mireille Darc will not obtain 7 gold the following year.

The screenwriters, now freewheeling, obviously won’t stop there. But, for those who like stories with a happy ending, know all the same that Hélène will recover her sight thanks to Bruno, her brother, who, suffering from an incurable brain disease, bequeaths to her, generously, his eyes, in a video recorded before his suicide. The evil twin will end up drowned. As for his double, much more balanced, he will organize his own death before going under the scalpel of a surgeon who will draw a new face for him. Now embodied by a brand new actor, he reconnects, in the final scene, with an Hélène more in love than ever, but totally helpless after learning that she is in fact the daughter of a prostitute and that, a female dog of life, his real first name is Gilberte! The only mystery: we will never know if Gilbert’s Eyes would have had the same success as Helen’s eyes which, for nine long weeks, will attract nearly 10 million viewers.

“Les Yeux d’Hélène”: when Mireille Darc sees double