Eiffel (2021) - full transcript

The government is asking Eiffel to design something spectacular for the 1889 Paris World Fair, but Eiffel simply wants to design the subway. Suddenly, everything changes when Eiffel crosses paths with a mysterious woman from Arun's past.


MARCH 31, 1889

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank you all for being here today.


Mr. Eiffel,

what you have done for America,

America will never forget.

You modestly claim
that you merely realized

the inner structure
of the Statue of Liberty.

But it is this framework

that guarantees
that this statue will resist wind

and storms

and will still be standing
in a hundred years.

More. Much more.

On behalf of the American people
and their values,

I appoint you

an honorary citizen
of the United States of America.

Father, we must talk.

You're giving up law school for art?

I want to get married.

Excuse me?

I want to get married.

Yes, of course. You will someday.

Have some more oysters.

Iodine is excellent for health.

Jean, have you eaten?

- No.
- You have the paper?


-Anything about the medal?
-I haven't read it yet.

Another dozen oysters.

You need to sign this.

Father, we need to talk.

Tell Poulard he's too costly.

Have you thought about the World's Fair?

Again? I want a metro.
Claire, tell him a metro is modern.

A metro is modern.

A monument is an opportunity.
It's prestigious.

A monument is exciting.


Why build something
you only have to take down?

-It's temporary?
-Twenty years.

Koechlin and Nouguier's plan
is ready to roll.

Those two again?

You kidding?

-I'll leave you.
-But, sweetie…

You wanted to talk.

Don't worry.

Your daughter really has changed.
She's become a woman.

You think so?


They brought their model?

Of course.

- Fifteen minutes, no more.
- I know.

Hello, Maurice.

It's ugly.

It has four legs.

Four, six, or twelve. Ugly is ugly.

We can go up to 200 meters.

The Washington Monument
is only 169 meters.

- So higher is better?
- Yes.

That's the idea.

Pack up your pylon and back to work.

A good project is useful,
democratic, and lasting. Thank you.

You too.


- Is the new kid joyful or stupid?
- We can't tell.

Find out about the metro.

It's a conflictual topic.

We need the Minister of Commerce.

That's no simple matter.

Look here.

Antoine de Restac.

We were in prep school together.

He's a journalist
who's close to the minister.

He's our man.

Were you friends?

We liked beers and girls.
We brought them to the dorm.

Put that here.

-The girls?
-No, we saw them outside.

- I'll arrange a meeting.
- Good.

Were the tests conclusive?

11,950 kilos.

The bridge sagged 21 mm
and corrected itself.

Very good.

To you, old fellow.

You remember?

Very well.

In the suburbs!

For the pleasure of the rich
with their fancy carriages!

What about real people who work?

How will they visit the thing?

-They'll take the metro!

I missed you, old boy!


- How many more?
- It's the last.

My head hurts. Have the new kid
get some bicarbonate.

-I'd like to talk.
-Yes, you want to get married.

With whom? No one knows.


-Don't know him.
-Adolphe Salles.

Never heard of any Adolphe Salles.
Funny name.

Stop it.

Why is he here?

It's him.

The new kid?

You want to marry the new kid?

Hang on.

Get me water and bicarbonate.

Dad, you'd have hired
any man I wanted to marry to test him.

This way, it's already done.

You tricked me.

He's been here seven months.

Can we consider it done?

My daughter is diabolical.

You knew about this?

Okay, I need some cognac.

What can I say? Let's toast.

You really are screwy.

To the new kid.

And to Mrs. New Kid.



Calm down. No, no, no. That's enough.

Please. It's late. Stop right now.

Where's Albert?


Stop it. Take off the mask.

Églantine, please!

That's enough. It's late.

Take his mask. Thank you.


-Gold or silver for a minister?
-How would I know?

What would your mother have picked?

-There's my answer.

She'd have liked Adolphe too.

-You think so?

Excuse me.

The minister is here.

He's with his private secretary.
Good sign.

-Are you scared?
-No, and you?

No. What I love most
is the thrill before a meeting.

At last, I meet you.

Mr. Minister.

The Minister of the Armed Forces
spoke of your bridges in glowing terms.

Very useful in Indochina.


-Charles Bérard, private secretary.
-Hello. Gustave Eiffel.

The Iron Magician.

I'm not a magician.
I have good teams.

Come meet my wife.


This is Gustave.

Good evening.

Good evening.

Mr. Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

dinner is served.

Shall we dine?


Excuse me.

Antoine says
you have ideas for the competition.

Gustave is in favor of the metro.

The metro makes no one dream.

After the defeat at Sedan, France needs
a monument like you did for the Americans.

The Statue of Liberty. What a symbol!

That was Bartholdi's work, sir.

But if it stands, it's thanks to you.

Adrienne, what do you think?

The same as Mr. Minister.

We must be freer.

More audacious.

Forget the metro!

This must be France's revenge on history.

Eiffel, that's what I expect of you.

A granite column. How boring.

We want panache.

A tower.

300 meters high.

300? Incredible.

Made of metal?

Entirely of metal.

I have one condition.

I build it in Paris.

Everyone must be able to see it.

The wealthy,


big families, and simple folk.

I want people to mix.

No more class divisions.

- That's modernity.
- It's fabulous!

That's a project. Exactly what we need.

You could've warned me.

He's always been unpredictable.

Can we drop you off?

Thanks, I'll walk.

I'll get the car. It's a new prototype.

Look at me.

I hoped I'd never see you again.

Thank you.

What are you doing here?

Did you sleep here?

We're building the tower.

What do you mean?

We're buying
Koechlin and Nouguier's project.

What are you talking about?

It'll be 300 meters.

Get us some coffee.

Look, my mind is made up.

What? Hello there.

No news for 20 years,
and now you're everywhere.

Yes, it's…

I'm always cooped up indoors.
I needed a walk.

I live right here.

-You do?

I didn't know.

Come have a drink.


Don't be shy.


Let's go.


-Adrienne's a great admirer of yours.
-Oh, yes?

She even read one of your technical works.

I'm flattered.

She's very charming.

She's astonishing. Very curious.
Everything interests her.

She could've done anything.

Excuse me for a minute. Have a seat.

-Nice taste.

What are you doing?

I got lost.

Help me!

Help me!

Help me!

Come help us!

Bring us water!

You had no business jumping.

With more wood,
we'd have better scaffolding.

No one would fall off!

I've told you.
I have a budget to stick to.

Get them water!

And I need my men.

Did your man die? No.

So stop whining about wood.

-I'll find some myself.
-Of course.

Get changed. This is no time to get sick.

Mr. Bourgès.

-You're expected?
-It's urgent.

It's about the bridge.

Follow me.

This way.

Out of my way!

No, don't start in again.

- I love pants.
- They're forbidden.

You'll visit me in jail?

-Be a good girl.
-I am a good girl, Father.

Mr. Bourgès?

Who are you?

-It's about the scaffolding.

-Yes. For the bridge.
-The bridge?

But who are you?

Gustave Eiffel.

Eiffel, my pleasure.

-The talk of the town.

I know. We need more wood.

-I'll see with Pauwels.
-No, now!


Well then, stay for lunch.

We'll talk about it.

-Is that a yes?

Perfect. Georges, another setting.

I didn't come for lunch. I came for wood.

Bravo for this morning.

The Garonne is perilous!

He didn't hesitate an instant
before diving in.

You dove into the Garonne?

Everyone seems to know but me.
Please do tell us.

I need scaffolding.
One of my men fell into the river.

One of your men?

I'm the engineer
in charge of the metal bridge.

Metal lacework!

It's phenomenal.

I find it ugly.

It's modern.
And it was the mayor's choice.

Quite a project
for a young engineer.

I didn't design it alone.

I supervise the works.

Pauwels said
that the young man developed

a revolutionary new method
with hydraulic jacks.

A simple system.

The piles are secured in the riverbed.

The bridge is stable
despite its light metal structure.

So you're an engineer?


- Can you build anything?
- Not anything.

But quite a lot.

Where did you learn to swim?

At prep school.

Which entrance exam?

I wanted Polytechnique,
but Centrale took me.

So Centrale needs good swimmers?

My first-aid test actually went badly.

The guy I was to save drowned and died.

Fortunately, they graded my dive.

My arms were straight, so they took me.

He's funny!

Our engineer has wit. Very funny.

And you hushed Edmond.

That makes you a double hero.

Sir, our scaffolding
is too small.

That's why my man fell.

I need more wood.

Father, did you hear that?

If a bit of wood can save lives.
You could be a hero too.

Are you bored?

No, I have to work.

Of course.
I always forget. Some people work.

Will you come for my birthday?

I don't know.

There will be wood and metal.

Tables and silverware?

That's right.

In that case, why not.

Good day, miss.

Good day.

I was there.

I saw you save your man.


[indistinct chattering

Mr. Eiffel will join us.

Let's start.


What can I do now?

It's a draw. You stay.

-No, no, no.
-Yes, yes, yes!

Who wants ice cream? Vanilla, strawberry.


You don't like ice cream?

Yes, of course.

You're so serious.

Does that displease you?

No, not at all.


It's for you.

Thank you.


Should I have got a fan or hanky?

A hanky, yes.

I love your gift.

It's like no other.

Like you.

Like me?

Yes, you.

You're different.

Thank you.

Happy Birthday!



Hurry, everyone's waiting.

-Good evening.
-Good evening.

Come inside.

-Have a seat.
-No, thank you.

I read your book.



Why are you here?

The other day--

…was a misunderstanding.

I'm sorry.

No. I mean, yes. I'm the one who's sorry.

Then we both are.

-Are you making fun of me?
-No, not at all.

You're very…



Look, there will be other birthdays

with music and ice cream.

And another man,
another hero who's "different."

You'll play games and be what you are…

a charming spoiled child.

Is that what you think of me?

I don't want to play.



What are you doing?

I'm playing.

I'm sorry.

Here, come on.

Spruce this up
with balconies and galleries

but don't change the shape.

Did you see this?
A double page about you in the paper.



You're building a giant tower, not me.

Then, thank you.

Him too? What did I promise him?

You bribe them to write about me?

Whatever it takes.
And that's not the half.

We'll win the contest.

Alphand is with us,
but there are other councilors.

My tailor is the best in Paris.

They'll love you.

The council are all men.

Who listen to their wives.

I am merely a man
with an idea grander than himself.

I ask you only
to let me breathe life into it.

This tower, gentlemen,

is not the glory of a man
or his reputation.

It's Paris.

Its international influence.

Its place in the world.

Maybe even its soul.

Imagine a tower reaching up to the sky.
For all to see.

A tower defying gravity, the elements,

our modest human condition.

This tower, gentlemen,

is the restored confidence

of a nation that stands proud

after the bloodshed and tears.

You're not afraid this colossus
might frighten tourists?

To the contrary.

Tourists from Europe and the New World
will flock to Paris.

Moreover, you will be able to dine

and even dance.

What about the ground soil?

So near the Seine, your marvel might sink
and endanger the area.


I understand your concern.

In my early career,
20 years ago in Bordeaux,

a metal bridge posed the same challenge.

So we invented compressed-air caissons.

Yes, we tested the soil.

On one side, it's limestone.
But by the river, you're right.

It was the former riverbed.

Molasse with no solid foundation.

So we'll make one.

That's where the caissons come in.

Caissons sink as you dig,

and the water rises.

You inject compressed air through a shaft,

and the pressure drives the water back.

You continue to dig and excavate gravel,

then dry cement the foundations.

This technique
provides a perfectly stable anchor,

regardless of the soil
or the weight of the work.

And, of course, there's no danger.

Never had a problem.

Gentlemen, a model is waiting downstairs.

You'll see
the tower's resilience and strength.

So you worked in Bordeaux?

Yes. Just the time to build a bridge.

-How old were you?
-Twenty-six, twenty-eight.

You surely met Adrienne's family,
the Bourgès?


-Doesn't ring a bell.
-I see.

For safety, please step back.


Lightning rods penetrate the water table,
and lightning has no effect.

This copper will conduct the electricity
into the earth.

It goes all the way down the tower.

Now for wind resistance.


This jet is the equivalent
of 350-kilometer winds.

The lattice girders
were designed to give the tower

efficient wind resistance.

Please note the curved uprights.

As if they were shaped by the wind.

This curvature is what
absorbs the wind's cutting force.

All pieces will be prefabricated
here in our atelier

in Levallois-Perret.

The pillars are built apart.

How will you join the four legs

60 meters off the ground?

Very good question.

And the trickiest part
of our project. Look here.

Come closer.

Each pillar has a hydraulic jack,

and each rafter
is supported by piston struts.

Empty the sand above…

the pillar bends.

Activate the jack below…

the pillar rises.

We can adjust
the horizontal and vertical planes.

When the cross-struts align,

we have our Level 1.

Always a solution.

Life taught me to avoid surprises.

A 300-meter guillotine
to represent the Republic.


It took daring.

I like the military hospital.

Very nice.

A globe for the World's Fair
seems logical.

-Not very elegant, but why not?

Now this is… …remarkable.

Save Paris from that.

The famous beacon.

His main competitor.

Very pretty too.

There he is.


Even Adrienne is nervous.

The wait is dreadful.

Meet Claire, my daughter and collaborator.


- You must be proud of your father.
- Often.

I'm always proud of her.

You're lovely, Claire.

-May I call you Claire?
-Of course.

Your rival is Bourdais.
The president loves his Trocadéro Palace.

- Hello.
- Hello.

Is it the beacon he likes?

You could add one too.

Shall I get champagne?

Not yet. It'll bring bad luck.

Ladies and gentlemen,

the jury will now announce its verdict.

Let's go.

It won't last long, don't worry.

Ladies and gentlemen…

the members of the jury

have studied the projects

in competition for the World's Fair

with the greatest attention.

The winner is…

with nine votes against four,

the 300-meter tower

presented by the Eiffel Company.



Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you.

This victory is yours!

We have acquired unequaled experience
worldwide, thanks to you.

A project like this
has never been attempted.

Your children will proudly remember
that you were part of it.

We are going to build a dream together!

[all cheering

-Where's the new kid?

You'll do the hiring.

-We'll need at least 1,000 men.

Fitters and carpenters,
Savoyards, tightrope walkers, redskins…

Hardworking men who don't fear heights.


Have engineers from four different schools
redo the calculations.

I want no hitches.

I want life-size templates
and a 1:100 scale model in the office.

I'd rather settle problems here.

Safety is priority. Protection from
falling tools, cold, and wind.

I want no deaths on this site!

C'mon, boys.

Let's go.

Eiffel! Start the dance.


Oh yes.

People are watching us.

Talk to me, please.

Are your parents well?

I have no idea.

I never see them.

And your tower?

Coming along.

I missed you.

You're trembling.

There's an inn at Batignolles.
"Les Acacias."


-Stop it!

-Meet me there.
-That's enough. Enough.

I have a life.

I have a husband.

It's the past, Gustave.

I'm hungry!

- There's nothing else?
- No.

- They're no good?
- No.

One day, I'll give you all you want.

-What do you want?



[breathing heavily

-I'm going to marry you.
-Me too.

Watch your head!

What if the caisson sinks too fast?

There's no danger.

You just evacuate dirt faster.

Everything okay, boys?

The Seine piles are almost done.

Appalling for the ears!

It's the air pressure.

The water's rising!

More air pressure. Hang on!

Cover your ears!

Hurry, buckets!

We're good. It's going down.

It's okay. Come on.

Not very reassuring.
I've been receiving complaint letters.

Worried residents. We can't ignore them.

I heard. Let them talk.

My caissons aren't coffins.

Can we go back up now?

Of course. This way.

Move aside.

Remove the lamp and rope.

We're coming up!

-You first.
-Thank you.

Thanks, boys.

You okay, René? Huh?

You go up too.

That's good, Mr. Minister.

Thank goodness.

It's nicer outside.

Look, journalists.

Everything's fine!

Fantastic visit!


Bravo. Bravo, Eiffel.


Fabulous. Fabulous.

"Streetlamp of shame."

"An eyesore."

I'm unpopular.

Too bad.

Residents demand
that we take everything down.

I don't care.

They're counting the number of deaths
when the tower collapses.

We'll publish drawings of our works.

That'll calm them down.

-Finish the cross-strut cutaways.
-Yes, sir.


The men are demanding raises.

-They might strike. It's getting risky.

They knew from the start.

Now it's firsthand.

The scared men
work on the ground.

A 20-day strike, and we dismantle
everything at our expense.

- And there's more.
- What?

- The Vatican is upset.
- Wonderful!

The pope says the tower
is overshadowing Notre-Dame.

We're bringing them
closer to God.

All Paris is against us.

Artists are signing a petition.


They think we can't make something
solid and esthetic?

What's Restac doing?

Isn't this his job?

Our publicity and reputation?

Up to Level 1 we pay.

-What do I say?
-Buy time.

I want you.

-Mother could see us.

Stop! Here take this. Shh.

Can you water the begonias?

Right there.

-With pleasure.

You do that well.

I love you.





Is all well, sir?

Fine. Thank you, Honorine.


Your tower scares them.

You scare them.

Even your men are frightened.
Or so I read.

The press is no longer with me.

We need to do something.


The press could reassure people.

And the banks. I have to reach Level 1.

And if you don't?

It's all over.

Funds will be blocked. I'm done.

-Surely you exaggerate.

You knew it was risky.


What's going on?

I don't understand.

It's the first time.

Never had problems before.

Will it start up again?

I hope so.

Otherwise, we'll be late.

Think you could crank-start it for me?


It's up front.

No, nothing.

Can you try again, harder?

That's it. They're on strike.

We'll never hold out. Never.

You already told me.

Leave me. I need to be alone.


Let me congratulate you.
The bridge is a success, lad.

And we met the deadline.

I'll go now. I need a good photo.
Elections are soon!

That's right.

- Are the Bourgès here?
- Hurry, everyone's ready.

We can't take the photo
without the Bourgès.

What's wrong? Where are they?

I'm sorry, Eiffel.

Where's Adrienne?

She went away.

Went away? I don't understand.

You haven't understood from the start.

You were strung along, like others.

She doesn't want to marry you.

She was afraid to tell you.

It no longer amuses her.

You don't believe me?



Go on. Get lost.

Let's go.

I'll wait for her.

Tell her…

I'll wait.

You're 20 years late.

You ready?

Gustave's waiting.

You're making me dizzy.

I had an idea. We'll marry in Italy.

You say nothing?


How does Italy sound?

Adrienne, sweetheart…

There will be no wedding.

Not in Italy or elsewhere.

Your mother and I have thought it over.

You can't marry this guy.

"This guy"?

Frankly, dear, you deserve better.

You know it.

He's not… I mean, we're not…

You understand.

I'm expecting "this guy's" baby.

I'm carrying Gustave's child.

I was going to tell him today.

Go to your room.

Right now!




No! No!


Don't do that!

Get back down!

Forgive me.

Forgive me.

We were getting married.

A child would've been a lovely gift.

I wish we could stay here.


In the grass?

Happy, in the grass.

We'd get bored.

Our backs would hurt.

And there are ants.

You'd get bored.

You too.

No rivers to jump into.

He scares me.

Did he say anything?

No, it's in his eyes.

He knows.

We've decided.

It's "no."

We cannot afford a fiasco.

You aimed too big. Too high.

Too high in relation to what?

Nothing is like my tower.

We provided a study and precise quote.

With your logic, there'd be no buildings.

No cathedrals in Europe! It's absurd!

My teams and materials are the best.

I have experience worldwide.

The sturdiness of the tower
is not the issue.

It is profitability.

This tower will make money.

-Thousands will come.
-Sir. Don't insist.

Very well.

Please close my accounts.

-Which ones?
-All of them.

Personal and corporate.

Gentlemen, see you on inauguration day.


- Our other backers won't be enough.
- I know what I'm doing.

I'm the financial director, you know.

Not your personal fortune.

Mortgage everything?
The house, the company…

Gustave, not the patents?

I'll finish, even if I'm in debt for life.

It's madness.

They're lying to us!

Hear, hear!

We didn't get a penny!

That's right!

And now this!

Here's what's going on. Formal notice!

We reach Level 1 in two months,
or we pack it up.

He's right!

He's right.

Yes, you're right.

I can't give anyone raises, for now.

But we don't need two months,

just two weeks!

-One crane for each pillar.

Set up on the future elevator tracks.

Two weeks we'll be done.

What about us?


"Us" is you and me!

We're in this together.

I can't increase your wages today,

but I will!

What about our safety?


Let's get to this blasted Level 1,

and I'll double your wages. How's that?

This tower

is France's tower.

But above all…

…it's yours!


We started together,

we'll finish together.

Move aside.

Go on, Felix.

Be careful.


Three centimeters short.

Megaphone. The megaphone.

You hear me down there?

Three centimeters!

Go on, Felix!

16 millimeters too low.

Don't move.

The press, you hear me?

The press!


Three degrees!

Three degrees.

C'mon. C'mon.

C'mon, boys.

Try again, Felix.

We're good!

Bravo, men!


We got our Level 1.
From here on, it's 20 meters a month.

We carry on. Bravo, to you.


You gaze at your tower…

like a man in love.

Are you jealous?

I'm going to tell him.

I wanted to say it here.

I love you.

Say something, Antoine.

Why didn't you tell me back then?

The scandal.

Did you think of that?

I don't care.

Maybe you don't,

but him?

He loves me.

I don't mean love.

I mean reputation.

And money.

Gustave needs both
for his glorious career.

And for his tower.

The Council of Paris
wants to withhold its funding

until he reaches Level 2.

You know, they listen to me.

You disgust me.

Let go!

While you loved, I dug up trash.

I could bury his reputation overnight.

Let me go.

Think hard.

Look, they love it.

An on-site cafeteria.


I'd like shades of white.

Original for a wedding.

With flowers in my hair.

Or oak leaves. Do you like them?


Your mother loved you so much.

I miss her.

Honey, I need to tell you…

I met a woman.

You'll see, she's…

like no other.

I'd like her to live with us.

All together.

-What do you say?

You'll help me tell your siblings?

I'm happy for you.

I married Adrienne
when she was half-dead.

Her body torn open.

And all alone.

Even her parents disowned her.

I didn't build towers or bridges,

but I loved her.

And I still do.

Leave us, Gustave.

You can't have it all.

We leave Paris tonight.

How much would you sacrifice for Adrienne?

Antoine, stop.

Would you give everything?

And for that?

Your scandalous metal folly, Gustave.

It's my decision.

Not yours.

Nor Antoine's.

It's my decision.

As of today,

replace the bolts with rivets.

All right.

No one will ever take it down.

No. No, no, no!

The gaps are too wide!

We can't use the cranes.

Do you realize?

Everything was perfect!

Who made this blunder?

Who did this?

We'll never make it!

-Goodbye, Jeannot.

Mr. Minister.

[emotional music playing

It'll be all right, Father.