Film review : « Kan ar Galon, Bro Gozh ma Zadoù », Mikael Baudu, by Aneurin Karadog

Cambria, volume 12, numero 2

As a half Welsh, half Breton who speaks both languages, I was intrigued to receive the dvd which explore the Breton national anthem and its origins. The half hour long documentary by Mikael Baudu, a respected and experienced journalist and filmmaker in Breizh (Brittany in Breton), is available to view in both Breton and French so accessible to a wider market than Breton speakers alone.

The opening scenes tell us that Brittany and Cornwall share the Welsh national anthem and have quite lyrics, which immediate raises questions in the viewer’s mind. How and why is this the case ? From which country does the anthem originate ? Is it recognised nationally or by mere factions whithin the three Brythonic Celtic nations ? I hoped that the next half hour’s viewing would answer these questions.

Baudu’s film opens with Bro Gozh ma Zadoù being sung by thousands in the Stade de France in 2009 when two Breton teams, Rennes and Guingamp battled each other in the final of the French Cup. With Gwenn ha Du flags creating a current of Breton nationalism to go with the flow of the national anthem, and none other than Alan Stivell himself there to head the singing, never before had the national anthem, and indeed the Breton language, been allowed to breathe so lively in the centre of Paris. French newspapers carried Breton headlines and although one team had to lose on the day, all Breton people present in the stadium and viewing the game at home felt that something bigger had been gained.

To explain the significance of this moment, if people think that the Welsh language is still on the edge and faces an insecure future, then Brezhoneg (Breton language) is on such e thin edge that its existence hinges on chance encounters between two Breton football teams in the final of the French cup.

In Brittany, there exists a strong pride in being Breton with its rich musical and gastronomic heritage, but there is also a passive acceptance that the principal nationality if French. The French unitary state has successfukky quashed efforts at devolution but the fight for survival of the Breton language goes on trough initiatives such as Breton medium schools (skolioù Diwan) which receive next to nothing from the French state, and mayoral efforts from various towns and villages in Breizh to use the language in official settings and events.

With that context in mind, let’s return to the content of the film and whether or not it successfullky answered my questions about the origins of the anthem.. I’m glad to say that it did, as it took me from Wales with the Eisteddfod and its Gorsedd, to Cornwall and Brittany where similar institutions were established. Through the medium of talking head interviews with several people, including members of Gorsedd Beirdd Ynys Prydain, we are told that the original Welsh version of the anthem, Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, was written by Evan James and his son James.

The Bretonisation of the Welsh anthem came about through William Jenkyn Jones, a Welsh Protestant missionary in Quimper. Jones influenced the composer of the Breton version of the anthem François Jaffrennou, later known as Taldir after being received in the welsh Gorsedd. The Cornish version of the anthem, Bro Goth Agan Tasow, was then translated by Henry Jenner, a Cornishman with connections to Brittany, thus creating a Brittonic triumvirate of shared culture.

One interesting point that Baudu makes is that the anthem has proven its worth as a uniting force in Cymru, Kernow and Breizh alike. The Welsh love to sing it before a rugby game, at the end of concerts, eisteddfod ceremonies, and down the pubs when the wheels are well oiled. The people of Cornwall take pride in singing it as they fight for any kinf of acknowledgment of their national identity from Westminster, and as they seek to rekindle the flame og the Kernewek language. The people of Brittany are not only bounf through it in the final of the French Cup, but also at times of crisis in their recent history, in the nazi camps as well as in public meetings to condemn the polluting caused of the coastline caused by the Amocco Cadiz oil spillage in 1978.

The shared anthem is therefore a reminder of the ties between the Brythonic Celtic countries, a bond often forgotten by many.

If there is a criticism to be made of the film, I would say that the freaming of the camera shots on many of the talking heads leaves a lot to be desired, but perhaps this was the intended style. On the whole, an enjoyable half hour, though you will need to have a grasp of either French or Breton to be able to view the film. One more thing, don’t be alarmed: if this film gives you your first glimpse of the Breton folk rock band, Tri Yann, not all people in Brittany have mad bleach blond hair and a sboran in the form of a crab ! Mat tre !

Lesneven : « Ya d’ar Brezhoneg » au son du Bro Gozh

Ouest-France, le 19 avril 2012

Il y a quelques années, lors de la signature de la charte « Ya d’ar Brezhoneg » à la mairie de Lesneven, Joël Marc’hadour, président de la Communauté de communes, avait solennellement déclaré qu’il signerait la charte lorsqu’une majorité de communes s’y serait engagée.

Mardi, les représentants de douze communes se sont retrouvés à l’hôtel communautaire à Lesneven pour la signature de la charte, en présence de Lena Louarn, présidente de l’Office Public de la Langue bretonne.

(….)

Les douze communes signataires montrent leur volonté pour que la langue bretonne tienne sa place dans la communauté.

(….)

La cérémonie s’est achevée par un vibrant Bro Gozh ma Zadoù, l’hymne breton joué par le Bagad Even et chanté par les participants.

Le Bro Gozh est tendance !

7seizh, le 15 avril 2012

Certains chantent ” Paris est magique “ pour crier leur ferveur, en Bretagne pour dire qu’on est heureux d’être Bretons on chante le Bro Gozh ma zadou avec fierté.

(….)

Depuis plusieurs mois, l’hymne bénéficie d’un regain d’intérêt et il n’est plus rare, ou mal vu, de le chanter lors de manifestations publiques.

Le Bro Gozh est tendance

Le 5 juin prochain, c’est Nolwenn Leroy qui recevra le second Prix Bro Gozh. La chanteuse a largement contribué à mettre en avant l’hymne national breton. Elle succédera à Alan Stivell récompensé en 2011.

(….)

Le Bro Gozh dans la campagne électorale …..

Le Télégramme, le 15 avril 2012

Hier midi, Jean-Marie Le Pen a animé un banquet «patriotique» pour ses militants, à Port-Launay (29), dans le cadre de la campagne de sa fille. À l’appel du PS et du NPA, 80 personnes se sont réunies pour protester contre sa venue. À quelques mètres du restaurant qui accueillait le banquet, elles ont fait entendre leurs voix à l’arrivée de l’ex-président du FN en interprétant l’Internationale.

(….)

Les manifestants ont hissé les drapeaux français et breton et entonné le Bro gozh ma zadou.

(….)

Le Bro Gozh au Vietnam le 19 mai 2012

ABP, le 12 avril 2012

En ce mois de mai prochain, les 17, 19 et 20, Kevredigezh Bretoned Bro Vietnam (KBBV), l’association des Bretons au Vietnam, organisera pour la dixième fois la Gouel Breizh – Gouel Erwan tant à la fois à Ho Chi Minh Ville où l’association a été créée qu’à Hanoï capitale du Vietnam. L’invité d’honneur pour cette prochaine Gouel Breizh est Gilles Servat qui se produira accompagné de musiciens locaux.
(….)
Les festivités du samedi 19 mai débuteront à la cathédrale Notre Dame de Saigon par l’inauguration, à 9 h 30, du vitrail à Sainte Anne rénové par la contribution financière de KBBV et par le chant du traditionnel cantique à Sant Erwan et de l’hymne national breton Bro Gozh va Zadoù.

Le Bro Gozh pour le jumelage Pleumeleuc – Llanfairfechan

Ouest-France, le 10 avril 2012

C’est une véritable fête du jumelage qui s’est déroulée toute la journée du dimanche 8 avril.

(….)

La cérémonie s’est achevée par le chant de l’hymne gallois et breton « le Bro gozh ma zadoù » accompagné du bagad du Cercle celtique montfortais, juste après l’hymne européen chanté par des enfants des deux écoles de Pleumeleuc.