Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Sun King

Author(s): Harry / Stefano
Location: Colombia / Italy

“The Sun King”
A Warner Bros. Pictures Release

Directed by Milos Forman
Written by Milos Forman, Jean-Claude Carrière
Produced by Saul Zaentz
Original Music by Ennio Moriconne
Cinematography by Philippe Rousselot
Production Design by Patrizia von Brandenstein
Costume Design by Franca Squarciapino
Editing by Nina Danevic
Sound Mixing by Mark Berger
Makeup by Jenny Shircore

Principal Cast:

Vincent Perez – Louis XIV of France
Natalie Portman – Marie-Thérès of Austria
Jeremy Irons – Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Isabelle Huppert – Marquise de Montespan
Gérard Depardieu – Louis XIII of France
Catherine Deneuve – Anne of Austria
Rupert Graves – Philippe d’Orléans
Anne Brochet – Duchesse de Maintenon
Sophie Marceau – Duchesse de Fontanges
Jean Rochefort – Jules Cardinal Mazarin
Kenneth Branagh – Molière

Tagline: “The majestic reign… the power and glory… the love and lust…the politics and scandals… the life and times of the greatest king ever lived"

Memorable quote: “I’m going away, but the State will always remain”

Rating: R for sexuality / nudity, violence,
disturbing images and some thematic elements.

Release Date: September 1st, 2006

Synopsis: Versailles, September 1st, 1715. The old King Louis XIV (Vincent Perez) lies sick and tired in his bed in the royal apartment of his sumptuosus chateau. Just outside his bedroom, several courtiers are anxiously waiting for the official announcement of the death of the monarch. In the last hours of his long life, Louis recalls the memories of the many years spent on the throne of France.

In the royal palace of Paris, a 5-years-old child named Louis is going to be crowned King of France, succeeding his father Louis XIII (Gérard Depardieu). Among the persons assisting at the ceremony there are his mother, Queen Anne of Austria (Catherine Deneuve), and the first minister of France, Jules Cardinal Mazarin (Jean Rochefort). Some years later, during the civil war of Fronde, Queen Anne saves the King’s life escaping with him from Paris in the middle of the night.

Louis XIV meets for the first time his cousin and fiancée Marie-Thérès of Spain (Natalie Portman) just before their wedding. One year later, after Cardinal Mazarin’s death, 23-years-old Louis assumes the control of the government. His courageous mother Anne of Austria is always alongside and helps him to impose his power on the rebel aristocracy. In a dramatic and uncertain moment for the history of France, Louis doesn’t know what to do, but after various moments of confusion he receives a big help from his faithful minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert (Jeremy Irons) and his younger brother Philippe d’Orléans (Rupert Graves), and he starts to create an absolutist and centralized state that has its center in the magnificent Chateau of Versailles. Versailles soon becomes the main symbol of the opulence of Louis’ court, and many parties, fancy-dress balls and stage performances of the famous poet Molière (Kenneth Branagh) take place there.

The marriage between Louis and Marie-Thérèse is not very happy: they feel like two strangers one to each other, and the King begins an illicit affair with the astute and charming Marquise de Montespan (Isabelle Huppert), a manipulative woman who astoundes the court by openly resenting the position of the Queen. Involved with satanic rituals and black magic, Montespan takes part to several conspiracies through the years, and due to her extremely possessive jealousy she brutally poisons the King’s new mistress, the beautiful Duchesse de Fontanges (Sophie Marceau).

But another scandal is ready to explode in the court of Versailles. Marie-Thérès becomes seriously ill, and she dies in the arms of her closest friends, the Duchesse de Maintenon (Anne Brochet), governess of Louis’ seven illegitimate children. The sudden and strong attraction between Madame de Maintenon and Louis brings down Montespan’s jealousy, but she gets banned from the royal court; and after her triumph over the rival, Maintenon can finally marry the King. Some years later, Louis XIV stands at the apogee of his power; three years later, the War of the Grand Alliance will have its start all over Europe, imposing the Sun King as the most powerful monarch in the world.

Back in his dying bed, Louis suddenly feels a big chill and he perceives the presence of death all over him. He wants to continue living and governing the State, but for the first time in his life he realizes he’s completely alone, and that nobody will help him escape this tragic fate. He’s going to leave his State. In the most dramatic moment, he has faith on the following governors of the State and pronounces his final words: “I’m going away, but the State will always remain”. Then, he slowly closes his eyes.

What the press would say:

From the acclaimed Academy Award winning director Milos Forman (“One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”, “Ragtime”, “Amadeus”) comes one of the most extraordinary biographical portraits ever seen on the big-screen, an extravagant and passionate work of art that is brought to the audience through an unforgettable cinematic experience. This majestic and gripping historical drama is an intense look at the public and private life of Louis XIV and at his powerful reign, with some unforgettable scenes such as the famous “dance of the Sun” in an eye-popping ballet, the War of the Grand Alliance with epic and disturbing battle sequences and the dramatic death of the King.

The film avails itself of a brilliant screenplay written by Milos Forman and Jean-Claude Carrière (“The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie”, “The unbearable lightness of being”), a wonderful score composed by Ennio Morricone, the beautiful costumes designed by Franca Squarciapino, the amazing cinematography by Philippe Rousselot, and a magnificent reconstruction of the opulent setting of the French court delivered by Patrizia von Brandenstein.

A terrific cast is leaded by Vincent Perez (“Cyrano de Bergerac”, “Queen Margot”) in the role he was born to play as the charismatic King Louis XIV. Perez gives a delightful and very convincing performance in the role of the French monarch as he shines on the screen with a tremendous intensity and charm. Natalie Portman (“Closer”, “Goya’s ghosts”) is delicious and moving as the beautiful Marie-Thérèse, the King’s young and timid wife, who silently suffers for Louis’ infidelities. Isabelle Huppert (“La cérémonie”, “The piano teacher”) is sensational in the role of the ruthless and scheming Marquise de Montespan, giving an astonishing performance as the film’s marvelous villain. And Jeremy Irons (“The mission”, “Reversal of fortune”) gives the best performance among the supporting actors as the King’s faithful minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert.

Awards Potential:

Best Picture (AMPAS)
Best Motion Picture (Drama) (HFPA)
Best Ensemble (SAG)
Best Director – Milos Forman
Best Actor – Vincent Perez
Best Supporting Actor – Jeremy Irons
Best Supporting Actress – Isabelle Huppert
Best Supporting Actress – Natalie Portman
Best Original Screenplay – Jean-Claude Carrière, Milos Forman
Best Original Score – Richard Robbins
Best Cinematography – Phillippe Rousselot
Best Art Direction – Patrizia von Brandenstein
Best Costume Design – Franca Squarciapino
Best Editing – Nina Danevic
Best Sound Mixing – Mark Berger
Best Makeup – Jenny Shircore

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