Review: La Prise du Puvoir Par Louis XIV

Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 0:22:29 -0400

Hi Jerry,

I saw “La Prise De Pouvoir Par Louis XIV” with English subtitles. The movie claims to be more realistic and presents a few scenes from the king’s early years of reign. However, I found it rather “forced to be realistic”. Louis XIV is shown as a dull robot without emotions. There is no romance, no intrigues, no major political and social discussions. For example, the movie shows scenes of Louis waking up and praying in front of the courtiers and of him eating his lunch later on (a few years later). Both scenes do not have words at all, except a few orders from the king. His only conversation with Colbert is quite dry as well. The king seems to be not a young man of 22, who is full of ambitions to rule on his own, but an old man who is old enough and is tired of everything. I think that Rosselini confused Louis XIV and his father who had that kind of dull character and was always unhappy and bored. The movie does not convince me that the main hero on the screen is a great king who, if he was not the best person, was a motivated and worldly young man and who had his own emotions and learned to control those later on. And by the way, there is no mention of the Iron Mask there at all.

In general, Louis XIV is a more complicated character than any movie can convey to the audience. Rosselini picked medieval darkness and did not highlight it with the growing Renaissance influence. He perhaps forgot that Louis’ childhood and youth were influenced by many interesting people and events that helped to form his world view. It is not surprising that later the king picked the best architects, musicians, poets, writers, gardeners and other talented people to serve at his court. Yes, it is a right word, because at the reign of Louis XIV, even great people like Molliere, La Fontaine and Racin were happy to serve the king. It was not offensive, it was a grant (if I can use that word). Perhaps, Louis XIV could not perceive the nature of the real art with his true sense but he could distinguish it from a bad copy, which is not bad at all.

I would not advice it for the general audience, especially American, they will find it boring. However, those who are interested in French history of that time could have their opinion on it. Moreover, I did not understand the language of the movie for it was French and noticed that the subtitles were really short in comparison to what I heard. Perhaps, other people would have a different opinion.