Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Rise of Louis XIV

Rossellini, 1966, 92m

In the last third of his career, Rossellini abandoned cinema for TV to turn out a series of historical and biographical films made from an educational viewpoint. The present film is a fascinating slice of French history as it examines the reign of Louis XIV, starting with his seizure of real power at the death of his trusted adviser and prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin. The concluding part shows us the court of the sun king in Versailles, in it's zenith of ostentation and excess, as the king consumes an endless meal with the entire nobility in attendance. The film abounds in veracious historical detail like a group of doctors attending to the dying cardinal, trying out or contemplating remedies like extensive bleeding, or consumption of gold and precious stones, as they smell and examine his perspiration and urine.

The film is worthwhile as a lucid, colorful and entertaining presentation of the political system of monarchy through one of its extreme manifestations.

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