GenreAdventure, Drama, War ScreenplayAndre G. Brunelin WriterAndre G. Brunelin LanguageFrench
Release date1 September 1980 (1980-09-01) (France) Based onLa legion saute sur Kolwezi
by Pierre Sergent CastBruno Cremer (Pierre Delbart), Mimsy Farmer (Annie), Jacques Perrin (L'ambassadeur Berthier), Giuliano Gemma (Adjudant-chef Federico), Laurent Malet (Damrémont), Pierre Vaneck (Colonel Grasser) Similar moviesFull Metal Jacket, Independence Day, '71, Warrior, Macbeth, Band of Brothers
La légion saute sur Kolwezi also known as Operation Leopard is a French war film directed by Raoul Coutard filmed in French Guiana. The script is based on the true story of the Battle of Kolwezi that happened in 1978. It was diligently described in a book of the same name by former 1 REP Captain Pierre Sergent. He published his book in 1979; the film came out in 1980. Raoul Coutard shot the film in a documentary style.
The film is based on true events: In 1978 approximately 3,000 heavily armed fighters from Katanga crossed the border to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and marched into Kolwezi, a mining centre for copper and cobalt. They took 3,000 civilians as hostages. Within a few days between 90 and 280 hostages were killed. The rebels appeared to be unpredictable and are reported to have threatened to annihilate all civilians. The Congo's head of state Mobutu urged Belgium, France and the United States to help. France sent the Foreign Legion's 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment who were flown from Corsica to Kolwezi. Following their arrival they secured the perimeter in cooperation with Belgian soldiers from Zaire and then started to evacuate the civilians. Within two days more than 2,000 Europeans and about 3,000 African citizens were saved. The film strives to depict these events in a dramatised form, concentrating on the Europeans' plight.
The late Jean Seberg had filmed scenes on location for the film but was replaced after her death by another American actress, Mimsy Farmer who reshot Seberg's scenes.