Enfilade

Foundation of One of the Oldest Black Churches in U.S. Unearthed

Posted in films, on site by Editor on October 8, 2021

Brick building foundation of the Baptist Meeting House, ca. 1800–18, Nassau Street, Williamsburg, 16 × 20 feet; the building was destroyed in 1834 by a tornado, with a new building being built on the site in 1856 (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).

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From the press release (7 October 2021). . .

After a year of excavating the site of one of the nation’s oldest Black churches, Colonial Williamsburg’s archaeologists believe they have found what they and members of First Baptist Church have been searching for: the church’s first permanent structure dating to the early 1800s. The announcement—shared earlier this week with the descendant community—coincides with the church’s community-wide 245th anniversary celebration this weekend.

“The early history of our congregation, beginning with enslaved and free Blacks gathering outdoors in secret in 1776, has always been a part of who we are as a community. To see it unearthed—to see the actual bricks of that original foundation and the outline of the place our ancestors worshiped—brings that history to life and makes that piece of our identity tangible. After 245 years, this is a reason to truly celebrate,” said the Rev. Dr. Reginald F. Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church.

An 1817 penny and a group of straight pins recently unearthed at an archaeological dig at the site of the original First Baptist Church of Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia (Photo: Jason B. Copes/Colonial Williamsburg Foundation).

Colonial Williamsburg archaeologists have been digging since September 2020 at the site of the church’s original structure near the intersection of Nassau and Francis streets in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area. The newly-identified 16 × 20-foot brick building foundation sits alongside a brick paving and on top of a layer of soil that dates to the early 1800s. Additional archaeological evidence, including an 1817 coin and a straight pin discovered under the paving, indicate that the foundation was constructed sometime in the first quarter of the 19th century. Tax records suggest that by 1818, the congregation was worshipping on the site in a building known as the Baptist Meeting House—in all likelihood, the congregation’s first permanent structure.

“We always hoped this is what we’d find,” said Jack Gary, Colonial Williamsburg’s director of archaeology. “Now we can move forward to better understand the footprint of the building. Is it the only structure on the site? What else was around it? What did it look like? How was it being used? This is really only the beginning.”

In addition to the original structure, Colonial Williamsburg’s archaeologists have discovered at least 25 confirmed human burials at the site. A community meeting is scheduled for October 30 for the descendant community to discuss next steps and make decisions regarding the investigation of the burial sites.

The physical remains of First Baptist’s original structure have been buried for 165 years, first under the foundation of a brick church building constructed in 1856 after the first church was destroyed by a tornado, and later under a parking lot that all-but silenced the remarkable history of the church. Over the past five years, that silence has been broken through an ongoing collaboration between the church and Colonial Williamsburg.

“Colonial Williamsburg is committed to telling a more complete and inclusive story of the men and women who lived, worked and worshiped here during our country’s formative years,” said Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “The history of this congregation is a story that deserves to be at the forefront of our interpretation and education efforts, and we are honored to play a part in bringing that story to light.”

First Baptist Church, which relocated in 1956 to 727 Scotland Street, partnered with Colonial Williamsburg in 2016 to renovate the church’s historic bell, allowing it to ring that year for the first time since segregation. Now known as the Freedom Bell, its remarkable journey is recounted in the Let Freedom Ring Foundation’s new documentary film History Half Told is Untold, premiering Saturday, October 9, at 2pm and 6pm at the Hennage Auditorium as part of First Baptist Church’s 245th anniversary celebration. Tickets are free but must be reserved online.

Additional anniversary events include a ‘behind-the-fence’ tour of the Historic First Baptist Church archaeology site on Nassau Street on Saturday, October 9 from 10am to 4pm and an outdoor service on Sunday, October 10 at 11am, featuring Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra String Ensemble, and the First Baptist Church Chamber Choir. All events are open to the public.

“This discovery could not come at a better time,” said Connie Matthews Harshaw, a member of First Baptist Church and president of the Let Freedom Ring Foundation. “We are so excited to welcome both our church community and the local community back after a difficult year of closures, and the discovery of the original site of our church is such a beautiful reminder of the power of public history to tell stories that inspire and unite us.”

Excavation of the Nassau Street site will continue weekdays 9am to 4pm, weather permitting, as part of a multi-year project seeking information needed to accurately reconstruct the earliest version of the church’s first permanent structure, surrounding landscape and topography; to locate burials; and to learn about the worship experience of the church’s early congregants. The project is supported by generous gifts from the Lilly Endowment Inc., The Ford Foundation, the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation and multiple individual donors, including a $100,000 anonymous gift from Two Friends of History.

For more information on the history of First Baptist Church and details of Colonial Williamsburg’s previous work with the community on this archaeological project, read the 25 August 2020 press release announcing the project and the 14 January 2021 update.

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First Baptist Church was organized in 1776 by enslaved and free Blacks in defiance of laws of the day forbidding the congregation of African Americans. First led by the Rev. Moses, a free Black itinerant preacher, they built a brush arbor at Green Spring Plantation several miles from Williamsburg to gather secretly in song and prayer. Organized as Baptists by 1781 under the Rev. Gowan Pamphlet, an enslaved man in Williamsburg, worshipers moved to Raccoon Chase, a rural area just outside the city. Moved by their stirring hymns and heartfelt prayers, Jesse Cole, a member of the city’s White Cole family offered the congregation use of a building on property that is now part of the Historic Area on the northwest corner of South Nassau Street and Francis Street West. By 1818, a structure referred to as the Baptist Meeting House stood on this property and may have existed here as early as the late-18th century.

In 1834, a tornado destroyed the Baptist Meeting House along with several other structures on the Cole property. The African Baptist Church, as it became known before the Civil War, dedicated a new brick church on the site of the earlier building in 1856. Several years later, in 1863, the congregation was renamed First Baptist Church.

In 1956, Colonial Williamsburg acquired the land on South Nassau Street from First Baptist Church and tore down the 19th-century building. Payment for the Nassau Street property covered the land and construction costs of the congregation’s current church at 727 Scotland Street, which opened the following year.

Story of Yanxi Palace

Posted in films, today in light of the 18th century by Editor on June 1, 2021

Still from Story of Yanxi Palace (2018), with the empress wearing a replica of a fengguan (phoenix crown) now in the Palace Museum, Beijing.

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I’m at least two years overdue with this posting—the series appeared in 2018—but I learned of it only recently thanks to Isabella Smith’s essay in the May issue of Apollo. I’m just three episodes in, but totally entranced. CH

Isabella Smith, “An Audience with the Qianlong Emperor, via the Small Screen,” Apollo Magazine (May 2021).

It’s like Game of Thrones, but with art instead of sex. I’ve found myself repeating that summary frequently while evangelising about Story of Yanxi Palace (2018), a Chinese period drama loosely based on historic figures in the Qing dynasty court of the Qianlong Emperor (1711–1799)—and one of my lockdown obsessions. The tale begins in 1741, when our Cinderella-like heroine Wei Yingluo (Wu Jinyan) enters the Forbidden City, ostensibly to work as an embroidery maid at the palaces, but with a secret mission: to uncover the perpetrator behind her beloved sister’s rape and murder. It’s a suitably knotty start to a narrative as labyrinthine as it is long; the series comprises 70 episodes at 45 minutes apiece.

Besides the intricacies of its intrigues, what has kept me enthralled is the sheer spectacle of the thing. From its heavily embroidered robes and carved jade to lavish lacquerwork and pottery, Story of Yanxi Palace is a feast for the eyes. In 2018, the show was streamed more than 15 billion times on the Chinese video platform iQiyi, before falling foul of government censors and being pulled from TV screens. The charge? Its ‘negative influence on society’, promoting admiration for imperial China and its luxurious lifestyles, an argument initially set out in Theory Weekly (a magazine affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper, the Beijing Daily).

What sets Story of Yanxi Palace apart from similar historical dramas—and China boasts a rich roster of such shows—is its devotion to the decorative arts. . . .

The full essay is available here»

For the wider media context of the series in China, see Jiayang Fan’s essay, “In China, Shows Like ‘Story of Yanxi Palace’ Go Viral, and the Party Is Not Amused,” The New Yorker (23 April 2019).

Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions, films, online learning by Editor on February 6, 2021

The exhibition Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection opened briefly at Harvard, before the museum was forced to close due to the pandemic. The catalogue of the collection, however, is scheduled to be published next month, and online programming continues, including a discussion of the film Edo Avant Garde.

Film Discussion: Edo Avant-Garde
Online, Tuesday, 9 February 2021, 7pm (EST)

Still from ‘Edo Avant-Garde’ (2019). Master of the I’nen Seal (1600–1630), Sōtatsu school, Trees, Japanese, Edo period, mid-17th century; pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, colors, and gold on paper (Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, F1962.30).

Join us on Zoom for a discussion of the film Edo Avant-Garde with curator Rachel Saunders and director Linda Hoaglund, presented in conjunction with the special exhibition Painting Edo: Japanese Art from the Feinberg Collection.

Edo Avant-Garde (2019) reveals the story of how Japanese artists of the explosively creative Edo period (1615–1868) pioneered innovative approaches to painting that many in the west associate most readily with so-called modern art of the 20th century. Through groundbreaking interviews with scholars, priests, art dealers, and collectors in Japan and the United States, the film explores how the concepts of abstraction, minimalism, and surrealism are all to be found in Edo painting. The film’s exquisite cinematography and outstanding original soundtrack, composed in response to individual paintings, present a remarkable immersive experience of some of Japan’s most celebrated and yet least-filmed paintings, many of them outside traditional museum and gallery settings. Simultaneously dynamic and mesmerizing, at its heart Edo Avant-Garde offers a unique opportunity to look closely and see differently.

This conversation will take place online via Zoom. Free admission, but registration is required. To register, please complete this online form.

Edo Avant-Garde will be available to stream for free through the Harvard Art Museums from Friday, February 5 to Friday, February 12. Upon registration, you will receive a link and password to access the film. We encourage you to view the film in advance of the discussion! The film is also available to rent through the Pacific Film Archive at the Berkeley Art Museum (BAMPFA). Please click here for further details.

If you have any questions, please contact am_register@harvard.edu.

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Distributed by Yale University Press:

Rachel Saunders, ed., Catalogue of the Feinberg Collection of Japanese Art (Cambridge: Harvard Art Museums, 2021), 264 pages, ISBN: 978-0300250909, $65.

The sophistication and variety of painting in Japan’s Edo period, as seen through a preeminent US collection.

Over more than four decades, Robert and Betsy Feinberg have assembled the finest private collection of Edo-period Japanese painting in the United States. The collection is notable for its size, its remarkable quality, and its comprehensiveness. It represents virtually every stylistic lineage of the Edo-period (1615–1868)—from the gorgeous decorative works of the Rinpa school to the luminous clarity of the Maruyama-Shijo school, from the ‘pictures of the floating world’ (ukiyo-e) to the inky innovations of the so-called eccentrics—in addition to sculpture from the medieval and early modern periods. Hanging scrolls, folding screens, handscrolls, albums, and fan paintings: the objects are as breathtaking as they are varied. This catalogue’s twelve contributors, including established names in the field alongside emerging voices, use the latest scholarship to offer sensitive close readings that bring these remarkable works to life.

Rachel Saunders is the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Associate Curator of Asian Art at the Harvard Art Museums.

Film | Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Posted in films by Editor on February 22, 2020

From the official website for the film, which opened in France last fall:

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu, directed by Céline Sciamma and starring Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel, 120 minutes, 2019.

France, 1760. Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), a young woman who has just left the convent. Because Héloïse is a reluctant bride-to-be, Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by firelight at night. As the two women orbit one another, intimacy and attraction grow as they share Héloïse’s first moments of freedom. The portrait soon becomes a collaborative act of and testament to their love.

Winner of a coveted Cannes prize and one of the best reviewed films of the year, Portrait of a Lady on Fire solidifies Céline Sciamma as one of the most exciting filmmakers working in the world today. Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel turn the subtle act of looking into a dangerous, engrossing thrill, crafting the most breathtaking and elegant performances of the year. To watch Marianne and Héloïse fall in love is to see love itself invented onscreen.

Television | Helen Mirren to Play Catherine the Great

Posted in films by Editor on August 3, 2019

Coming this fall, from HBO:

Oscar-winner Helen Mirren will lead miniseries Catherine the Great as the tumultuous monarch and politician who ruled the Russian empire and transformed its place in the world in the 18th century. The four-part historical drama [directed by Philip Martin] will follow the end of Catherine’s reign and her affair with Russian military leader Grigory Potemkin [played by Jason Clarke] that helped shape the future of Russian politics. Mirren, who won an Academy Award for embodying Queen Elizabeth in The Queen, offered her remarks on the project: “She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word ‘Great’ attached to her name.”

Catherine the Great is the latest project in the partnership between HBO and Sky (the network behind The Young Pope) and will begin filming later this year. It is produced by Origin Pictures and New Pictures and will be made available on HBO in the US and distributed to Canada through Bell Media. It will also be available air on Sky Atlantic, NOW TV in the UK and Ireland, and on Sky Atlantic in Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain.

Exhibition | Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor

Posted in exhibitions, films, lectures (to attend) by Editor on May 6, 2019

Press release for the exhibition:

Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 24 May — 22 September 2019

Curated by Jennifer Tonkovich

William Hogarth, Gin Street, 1750–51, red chalk, some graphite, on paper, incised with stylus (New York: The Morgan Library & Museum, purchased by Pierpont Morgan in 1909).

The Morgan Library & Museum announces a new exhibition of satirical drawings and prints by renowned artist William Hogarth (1697–1764). Best known for his humorous political commentary, Hogarth’s work engaged a broad audience and agitated for legislative and social change. His intricate drawings and richly anecdotal scenes depict the ills and injustices of eighteenth-century urban life, exploring the connections between violence, crime, alcohol abuse, and cruelty to animals. He hoped his graphic work would amuse, shock, and ultimately edify his audience. Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor tells the story of Hogarth’s iconic images and the social realities of life in Georgian London that inspired him to advocate for reform through popular works of art. It is the first show at the Morgan devoted to this artist, whose style was so influential in British art that the word ‘Hogarthian’ remains a recognizable way of describing works of satire.

Featuring over twenty works, the show investigates Hogarth’s creative process and examines his embrace of humor, highlighting the Morgan’s exceptional cache of preparatory drawings for his two most acclaimed print series from 1751: Beer Street and Gin Lane, and The Stages of Cruelty. Hogarth’s prints documenting the dangerous impact of the gin craze, Beer Street and Gin Lane, generated popular support for the 1751 Gin Act and other reform efforts, while the Stages of Cruelty reflects the growing anxiety about episodes of human brutality in London. Included in the show are the only other two known studies related to the Stages of Cruelty; these works reveal the complex generative process of the series. Also on view are drawings from The Royal Collection Trust that represent Hogarth’s first and last forays into satire.

Fiercely independent, Hogarth was driven to innovate in order to elevate the status of British art, creating new genres and modes of expression in his painting, printmaking, and drawing. His compositions are rich with narrative detail. It was his adoption of such ‘low’ subjects, no less than his use of humor, that led him to struggle to be taken seriously throughout his career.

“William Hogarth’s works should be enjoyed for their artistry, humor, and activism, and as such hold a special place in our drawings and prints collection,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the museum. “The artist was a keen observer of his city, and his visual anecdotes were a brilliant means of communicating to a wider public.”

“Looking closely at Hogarth’s passion for socially relevant subjects reveals the challenges he faced in being known as a satirical artist,” said Jennifer Tonkovich, Eugene and Clare Thaw Curator of Drawings and Prints. “I think our current appetite for satire allows us to appreciate Hogarth’s tremendous intelligence and ambition in constructing narratives that he hoped would change the world around him.”

S E L E C T E D  P R O G R A M M I N G

Laurel Peterson, Crafting Cruelty: Hogarth’s Innovative Drawing Methods
Tuesday, June 18, noon

William Hogarth achieved substantial artistic and commercial success in his lifetime, both as a printmaker and as a painter. Despite his enduring fame, Hogarth’s drawings are today little known and rarely studied. Laurel Peterson, Moore Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Drawings and Prints, will offer new insights into Hogarth’s practice as a draftsman, shedding light on the evolution of his drawing style and the role played by drawings in the development of his most iconic satirical prints. Co-sponsored by the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation.

Hogarth’s Gin Craze Festival
Friday, July 19, 6:00pm

Join us for an evening of revelry inspired by the Gin Craze of the 1750s! Enjoy gin-inspired bites and craft cocktails at Morgan Café and curatorial gallery talks at 6:00 and 7:30pm in the exhibition Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor. At 7:00pm we will screen the 1946 film Bedlam, which was inspired by William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress.

Bedlam, directed by Mark Robson (1946, 79 minutes)
Friday, July 19, 7:00pm

In 1760s London, an actress campaigns to reform a horrific hospital for the insane, but instead finds herself committed to the institution by the corrupt head of the asylum. Starring Boris Karloff and Anna Lee, Bedlam was the last in a series of stylish horror films produced by Val Lewton for RKO Radio Pictures.

Meredith Gamer, Hogarth: Cruelty and Crime
Thursday, 12 September, 6:30pm

Meredith Gamer, Assistant Professor of Art History at Columbia University, will explore the origins, evolution, and multi-layered meanings of William Hogarth’s The Four Stages of Cruelty (1751). A tale of neglect and abuse, murder and punishment, the series was—by eighteenth-century standards—one of Hogarth’s ‘lowest’ works. Paradoxically, however, it is also one of his most ambitious, for it aims to combat some of our most basic human frailties through the medium of art. Co-sponsored by the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation.

 

 

Thomas Chippendale: Silent ‘Biopic’, ca. 1925

Posted in films by Editor on November 13, 2018

During the 300th anniversary of Thomas Chippendale’s birth, we might also mark his 1779 death (he was buried in the grounds of St Martin’s in the Fields on 13 November) by attending to this film, recently discovered by Katie Hay (see below for a link with more information). CH

In 2017 a set of film canisters were rediscovered in the V&A stores, which turned out to contain 1920s silent ‘biopics’ of the furniture designers Thomas Chippendale and Thomas Sheraton. Both films are imaginative re-enactments of scenes from their lives. They were probably made for the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1925. The Chippendale film is particularly ambitious, charting his rise to prominence and major commissions. A cast of character actors in 18th-century costumes perform on studio sets dressed with antique furniture, and out on location. It includes scenes from two moments in his career: the first in 1760, when he was elected as a member of the Royal Society of Arts, and the second in 1772, the date of his major commissions for the actor David Garrick at Adelphi Terrace and for Edwin Lascelles at Harewood House in Yorkshire. The films were transferred to the British Film Institute and are shown courtesy of the BFI National Archive.

Katie Hay, writing for the V&A Blog (7 August 2018) provides the full story of the discovery of the films with additional information about their 1920s’ context.

New Book (and Film) | Peterloo

Posted in books, films by Editor on October 4, 2018

From Head of Zeus Books:

Jacqueline Riding, Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre (London: Head of Zeus, 2018), 400 pages, 400 pages, ISBN: 978-1786695833, £30.

Manchester, August 1819: 60,000 people had gathered in the cause of parliamentary reform. To those defending the status quo, the vote was not a universal right, but a privilege of wealth and land ownership. To radical reformers the fundamental overhaul of a corrupt system was long overdue. The people had come to hear one such reformer, Henry Hunt, from all over Lancashire, walking to the sound of hymns and folk songs. By the end of the day fifteen of them, including two women and a child, were dead or mortally wounded, and 650 injured, hacked down by drunken yeomanry after local magistrates panicked at the scale of the meeting. The British state, four years after defeating the ‘tyrant’ Bonaparte at Waterloo, had turned its forces against its own people, as they peaceably exercised their liberties.

Dr Jacqueline Riding’s compelling book ties in to Mike Leigh’s forthcoming film Peterloo, for which the author was historical advisor, in advance of the bicentenary of Peterloo in 2019.

Jacqueline Riding is author of the award-winning Jacobites: A New History of the ‘45 Rebellion. She is a consultant for museums, galleries and historic buildings, and an historical adviser on feature films.

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According to Wikipedia, the film is “scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on 2 November 2018, by Entertainment One, and in the United States on 9 November 2018, by Amazon Studios.”

Exhibition on Screen | Canaletto & the Art of Venice

Posted in exhibitions, films by Editor on July 24, 2017

As noted at Art Daily (23 July 2017) . . .

Exhibition on Screen open its fifth season with Canaletto & the Art of Venice, an immersive journey into the life and art of Venice’s famous view-painter.

No artist better captures the essence and allure of Venice than Giovanni Antonio Canal, better known as Canaletto. Despite Canaletto’s close relationship with the city in which he lived and died, the world’s largest collection of his works resides not in Italy, but in Britain as part of the Royal Collection. In 1762, George III purchased almost the entire collection amassed by Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice and Canaletto’s principal agent.

Exhibition on Screen’s latest release will grant unique access to the Royal Collection’s exceptional holdings of Canaletto’s work, much of which is on display as part of the exhibition Canaletto & the Art of Venice at The Queen’s Gallery in London (19 May — 12 November 2017). The remarkable group of over 200 paintings, drawings, and prints on display offer unparalleled insight into the artistry of Canaletto and his contemporaries and the city he became a master at capturing. The film also offers the chance to step inside two official royal residences—Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle—to learn more about the artist and Joseph Smith, the man who introduced Canaletto to Britain.

From London, Canaletto & the Art of Venice travels to the great Italian city to explore the origins of Canaletto’s art. Whilst appearing to be faithful representations of the city, Canaletto’s skill came from his manipulation of reality. He moved buildings around or opened up vistas to create the perfect composition, and his paintings of Venice were highly sought after by Grand Tourists. His playful imagination extended into a new genre in which he excelled. The capriccio combined real and fantasy architecture into imagined views. In this sense, Canaletto is more than a topographical artist—he is a master storyteller.

Cinema-goers will embark on their very own 21st-century Grand Tour, visiting the sites enjoyed by their 18th-century counterparts and immortalised in Canaletto’s views—from the Rialto Bridge to the Piazza San Marco, and the Palazzo Ducale to the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Guided by Royal Collection Trust curators and the world’s leading experts in Venetian history, the film is not only a wonderful way to see the exhibition, but an opportunity to get closer to Canaletto and the city that inspired him.

Earlier films from Exhibition on Screen are now available for purchase here»

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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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