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Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea set for film adaptation

One of Victor Hugo’s classic novels, which not only takes place in Guernsey but was also penned here, is set to be adapted into a new movie by producer David Shanks.

Guernsey's dramatic south coast

The film will be set in Guernsey, with six weeks of filming on-island due to take place around the island’s striking and beautiful coastline.

Toilers of the Sea is a love story which tells the tale of a Guernseyman named Gilliat, who aims to win the heart of a local ship owner’s niece by salvaging an engine from a wrecked ship.

Perhaps the most iconic scene of the novel is when Gilliat battles a giant, blood-drinking octopus on his mission to retrieve the engine. This scene is actually credited with introducing the word “pieuvre” meaning octopus into the French language, as it was originally the Guernésiais term.

Statue of Victor Hugo in Candie Gardens

The novel was Hugo’s tribute to Guernsey, the island upon which he lived for 15 years during his exile from France.

During his exile he lived at Hauteville House, an intriguing residence in St Peter Port, which is preserved as a museum today. It is one of Guernsey’s most popular visitor attractions, and features beautifully preserved gardens, a curious style of interior decorating, and his famous glass writing room on the top floor.

View from Hauteville House

Shanks has confirmed that the film will be produced without dialogue, and that he will let Hugo’s own words narrate the story to preserve its integrity.

Find out more about Victor Hugo’s exile in Guernsey.