Philippe Pozzo di Borgo: the elegance of an “untouchable”

DISAPPEARANCE His incredible life inspired one of the greatest successes of French cinema. Having become an icon, the aristocrat “tetra” has never stopped fighting to call for reconciliation with the share of fragility in us.

Agnes Leclair

Published update

Her elegance was such that we forgot her motionless body. And his message of fraternity upset France. Philip Pozzo di Borgothe quadriplegic aristocrat and hero of the film Untouchables, inspired by his journey, died at 72. His rollercoaster life has led him to become the spokesperson for fragility.

The directors of this tragicomedy Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, who crowned Omar Sy with the César for best actor, immediately expressed their emotion on Twitter: “We have just learned with great sadness the disappearance of our friend Philippe Pozzo di Borgo. By accepting that we adapt his story in Intouchables, he has changed our lives and the lives of many vulnerable and fragile people.“.

This content is not accessible.

” READ ALSO – hero’s callUntouchables against euthanasia: “Relieve but not kill”

Wearing a Panama hat in summer and a felt hat in winter, a silk scarf and dazzling humour, he navigated between laughter and silence. “What can the disabled bring to the able-bodied?” he was asked in 2012, justafter the phenomenal success of the film by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. “I have twenty years in the business, I will explain to you”, he replied with a mischievous look. Like a manual to happiness. A living testimony that there is still a place for vulnerability in a performance-oriented world.

“In complete freedom, I would have given in to despair…”

When he was younger, he was one of those sons of a good family on whom everything smiled. Heir to the Dukes Pozzo di Borgo and the Marquis de Vogüé, he combined a promising career in the management of Pommery champagnes with a happy marriage. Bubbles and love. In 1993, a paragliding accident in Savoie shattered his golden life. After several months in intensive care, the businessman wakes up quadriplegic, without the use of his arms or his legs. Nailed to an armchair at 42, under house arrest in his sumptuous Parisian mansion in the 7th arrondissement, he discovered immobility.

” READ ALSO – Untouchables, story of an incredible triumph

From this experience, “Pozzo” learned a lesson that he would deliver years later in his fight against the legalization of active assistance in dying. “After my accident, when I saw no meaning in this life of suffering and immobility, I would have demanded euthanasia if it had been offered to me. In complete freedom, I would have given in to despair, if I had not read, in the eyes of my caregivers and my relatives, a deep respect for my life, in the lamentable state in which I was. Their consideration was the light that convinced me that my own dignity was intact., he testified alongside the collective Relieve but not kill. Its last fight will have been to warn of the risks of drifts towards a society which could “at little cost, freeing oneself from the need to assist the most vulnerable.”

“Bac minus six”

Three years after his paragliding accident, another drama marked his life: the death of Béatrice, his wife, suffering from cancer. What hope for a lonely soul in a world gone empty? “I no longer have a past, I have no future, I am a present pain”he says of this period in his autobiographical account, The second wind. It was then that Abdel Yasmin Sellou made an unexpected appearance in his life. The little guy “bac minus six” become an auxiliary of life clashes in his paneled living room, too muffled. And dynamizes his depression. Their friendship, unexpected, invigorating, of total freedom, helps him to recover. This “guardian devil”as he nicknamed him, is played by Omar Sy in the film by Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. “While he was in a situation of total vulnerability, Philippe hired a guy who could have bullied him and he trusted him. This is exactly what Intouchables says: joy can spring from a relationship between two fragile beings because they trust each other and learn to help each other.summarizes his friend, the social entrepreneur Laurent de Cherisey.

” READ ALSO – François Cluzet: “The Intouchables phenomenon continues to surprise me”

The latter is the head ofSimon of Cyrene Association which benefited from 5% of the profits of the producers of the film, generously donated by “Pozzo”. Thanks to this initial windfall of 800,000 euros, the association has launched projects in France for shared houses bringing together “armchairs” and “valides”. 25 have already been built and the same number is planned. “I am the godfather, it is my Corsican side”, said the aristocrat in his armchair very proudly, mischievously exaggerating the accent of the Pozzo di Borgo clan, one of the oldest families on the island. Beyond that, it is the whole view of French society on disability that has progressed. “By accepting that we adapt his story in Intouchables, he changed our lives and the lives of many vulnerable and fragile people”greeted the directors of Intouchables.

This content is not accessible.

“A fruitful fragility”

“Philippe is the mystery of a fruitful fragility. He felt he had learned more after his accident than when he moved in a world of luxury and the tyranny of performance. Beyond his image and the message of the film, it is his words that helped us to build ourselves, says Laurent de Cherisey. At each meeting, he transmitted to us an incredible hope. He was calling us to be awakeners. We the fragile, we call for relationship. We disarm the fear of the other, the fear of difference and we create fraternity..

With his second wife Khadija and his two adopted daughters, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo had built a new life in Morocco, in Essaouira. The climate there was more lenient for his body crippled with pain. Regularly, he also spent long stays at the University Hospital of Nantes to receive care. A less publicized part of his existence. With poetry and prayer as antidotes to the suffering and fury of the world. Of those days and those nights, those months “Lying staring at the ceiling”, he never complained because “Consciousness reigns in silence” .

Untouchables in 2011, film by Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache inspired by the life of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, with François Cluzet, Omar Sy…

This content is not accessible.

source site