Joseph Bologne, also known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, was a true Renaissance man. He was a black classical composer, a fencing prodigy, a court favorite in ancien régime France, a revolutionary on two continents, and the commander of possibly the first nonwhite military division in European history.
His life story is so incredible that it could have made an amazing screenplay. And Searchlight Pictures agreed by greenlighting a biopic directed by Stephen Williams. However, the writers chose to deliberately confuse the movie’s historical timeline, shoehorn his complex life into a trite romantic drama, and add plot points that never really happened to fit an anachronistic racial narrative.
Saint-Georges was not only a charming ladies’ man and a virtuoso violinist, but he was also friends with luminaries such as Queen Marie Antoinette, Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans (later known as Philippe Égalité), and composers Salieri, Gluck, and Grétry. He conducted operas and networked with early abolitionists such as William Wil
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