John et la République, Mémoires d’un perroquet is a whimsical adaptation of a true story from 1794 about a parrot accused of royalism during the Terror because it repeated “Long live the King! Long live the nobles! Long live our priests!”
Conceived as a philosophical tale, the film follows the crazy adventures of a parrot caught up in the turmoil of history, a privileged witness to human stupidity and cruelty, a hero in spite of itself in a world that is not its own and which it does not understand. By turns a voyeur and an actor of events, John makes his way through a world in upheaval, between royalist libertines and tyrannical democrats.
It is the story of a beast and human stupidity (bêtise). A stupidity of which everyone is a prisoner, just as the animal is deprived of humanity. A stupidity that rigidifies ideas and fossilizes us. “Stupidity,” as Flaubert said, “is something unshakeable; nothing attacks it without breaking itself against it. It is of the nature of granite, hard and resistant.” It is this stubbornness of spirit that can be seen on numb faces and that makes the fool advance with a sure and satisfied step. But it would be wrong to believe that stupidity returns us to a bestial state. Man’s bestiality is not similar to the animals. It is far more dangerous, for it is the source of injustice and cruelty.