The real story of oligarch Philip, the prototype of the hero of the movie "1+1"

The real Philip and Driss (or rather Abdel Sellou, his name was changed in the movie) and their strong, slightly crazy friendship really existed! And overall, the truth is not far from the story presented to the audience.....

The real story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo from the movie "1+1" ("The Untouchables").

Often movies are made based on real events. And this is a kind of key to success, because a film based on a true story touches the audience especially: when watching such a film, the viewer realizes that all this is pure truth! All the difficulties, moments of happiness and sorrows were experienced by a real person, and not just the fruits of the rich imagination of the screenwriter. This makes every emotion live together with the hero of the tape - as in the case of the "1+1"a French comedy-drama centered on a paralyzed aristocrat. Philippe Pozzo di Borgo.

In June 2023, the real Philippe was gone: he lived to the age of 72, and passed away peacefully in his own home, surrounded by his loved ones. What was his fate, how he got into a wheelchair and became a source of inspiration for the Gaumont film studio, and whether it is true that his best friend was a little crazy and used to live life to the fullest? Algerian immigrant? Let's get to the bottom of this.

"Not everyone appreciated the candor" - The Untouchables storyline

A still from the movie "1+1"
A still from the movie "1+1"

"Untouchables" (the original title of the movie) was released in 2011 and quickly caught the attention of the world audience. Many were moved by the story of a wheelchair-bound aristocrat and his assistant - a rebel by nature, who literally breathed new life into Philip's everyday life. However, there were also those who found the drama to be a rather brutal - I think that there is too much irony and absolutely no sympathy from Driss (Philippe's assistant). Yes, Driss really has no regret for Philippe, and sometimes rather cheekily "pokes fun" at his buddy. But that's what the story is built on real friendship prototypes. Driss helped Philip to open up and get a taste of life again, which is exactly what Philip couldn't find in his environment, where everyone just felt sorry for him.

A still from the movie "1+1"
A still from the movie "1+1"

This movie shows real scenes from the lives of these two - even a chase episode where they masterfully deceive the police! What's more, according to Abdel Sella - of Driss's prototype - many details were deliberately glossed over because "the public would simply misunderstand them...". Thus, in this case, the movie actually downplays the absurdity of real life. Abdel's black humor never hurt Philip, and their adventures were the only thing that gave the aristocrat a sense of real life.

In the story, Philip, a wealthy and intellectually advanced man, becomes a hostage of the wheelchair after an unfortunate paragliding accident. His entire entourage, consisting mainly of aristocrats of the same kind, feels for him exclusively a pitywhich is no motivation to live. Philip feels depressed. He realizes that he needs an assistant and hires Driss, a black rebel who needed a written waiver to continue receiving unemployment benefits. Driss can't stand formalities: he's used to living life to the fullest, without denying himself any temptations. And it is his inner drive and spontaneity that allows Philippe to free himself to live the life he wants to live.

As you could already understand the real Phillip and Driss (or rather Abdel Sella, his name was changed in the movie) and their strong, slightly crazy friendship really existed! And on the whole, the truth is not far from the story presented to the audience....

Casual friends forever

The movie is based on events in the life of a French aristocrat Filippa Pozzo di Borgo and an Algerian immigrant Abdel Sella. Philippe was descended from a Corsican noble family and ran the Champagne Pommery wine house. In 1993, he was paralyzed after a paragliding accident. Three years later his wife died of cancer and the millionaire fell into a severe depression... Philippe could not take care of himself, so he needed an assistant. Out of all the candidates, he chose Abdel, who came for an interview so as not to lose the French visa. Soon the 42-year-old millionaire and the 21-year-old boy from the street, who had previously been in jail for hooliganism, became fast friends. As a result, the story of their strong and unusual friendship became the basis for one of the most popular French movies of all time.

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo
Philippe Pozzo di Borgo

In one of his interviews, Philip recounted:

"What hooked me about Abdel was his directness. He didn't pity me like the others. He was irreverent, brash and had an outrageous sense of humor. Next to him, I suddenly found myself enjoying life again, feeling like I didn't know what was coming next. This man made me taste life anew... The time I spent with him was my best memory."

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and Abdel Sellou.
Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and Abdel Sellou.

Philippe and Abdel remained friends right up to the former's passing, despite the fact that they had hardly seen each other lately: it was just that at one point the men left France. Abdel returned to Algeria, where he opened a poultry farm, and Philippe moved to Morocco. From the oligarch's memoirs:

"Abdel and I ended our collaboration when we both found our other half. We parted without sadness or hardship, with warm memories in our hearts..."

Mismatched flavors

In the movie, Philip is presented as a passionate fan of art and classical musicand that's true, too. The man really loved classical music, something Abdel never shared - he just didn't understand it. For this reason, the film featured a variety of compositions, both orchestral and hip-hop!

This approach to the soundtrack is a winning way to emphasize the kind of different natures heroes, but despite their very different tastes and interests they managed to become meaningful to each other. Have you seen this movie? What impressions did it leave you with? Share your experience in the comments!


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