Enfilade

Film | La Mort de Louis XIV

Posted in films by Editor on June 22, 2016

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La Mort de Louis XIV, directed by Albert Serra with Jean-Pierre Leaud, Patrick D’Assumcao, Marc Susini, Irene Silvagni, Bernard Belin, and Jacques Henric. Capricci Production, 112 minutes.

August 1715. After going for a walk, Louis XIV feels a pain in his leg. The next days, the King keeps fulfilling his duties and obligations, but his sleep is troubled and he has a serious fever. He barely eats and weakens increasingly. This is the start of the slow agony of the greatest King of France, surrounded by his relatives and doctors.

The agony of Louis XIV starts on August 9th 1715, and lasts until September 1st. It marks the end of a personal reign that lasted 72 years—the longest in French history. The of official diary of the Health of the King, which was held by its successive doctors, reveal that Louis XIV had a fragile health and almost died on numerous occasions: from syphilis at the age of  five, from a maligned fever at thirty-five, from a fistula at forty-five, and from diabetes with gangrene complications at seventy. This time, at the start of August 1715, Louis XIV suffers from an embolism in his leg due to cardiac arrhythmia, which will start the gangrene.

The press kit is available as a PDF file here»

From Boyd van Hoeij’s review (19 May 2016) for The Hollywood Reporter:

tumblr_o6yhhsmVyr1rw4bsao1_1280The good news is that The Death of Louis XIV (La Mort de Louis XIV) isn’t only the ultra-arthouse director’s first feature in which he works with professional actors instead of amateurs, but it’s also by far Serra’s most accessible work to date. Buyers and programmers familiar with the auteur will of course understand this hardly puts the film, essentially a death-chamber piece, in Avengers territory, though commercial prospects are certainly better than usual.

The film’s only exterior sequence comes at the very start, as the 76-year-old Louis XIV (French New Wave legend Jean-Pierre Leaud) surveys his famous gardens at Versailles, which were partially constructed during his 72-year reign. He’s in a proto-wheelchair because his leg already hurts and it certainly can’t be a coincidence that the monarch’s overlooking his estate in the twilight hours before retiring to the palace, a place he’ll only leave again a fortnight later, a dead man.

For almost the entire film that follows, Serra keeps the viewers inside the king’s bedroom, with practically no expeditions to even the adjacent room and corridors. The claustrophobic setting within what viewers presumably know is a vast expanse of real estate (which in turn was a tiny fleck of property within the Kingdom of France), is clearly meant to humanize the man who believed he ruled France by divine right but who, in his waning days and hours, looked just like millions of others on their deathbed.  .  .

The full review is available here»

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