1661: Cardinal Mazarin dies. In the power vacuum, the young Louis asserts his intention to govern as well as rule. Mazarin's fiscal advisor, Colbert, warns against Fouquet, the Surintendant... See full summary »
1661: Cardinal Mazarin dies. In the power vacuum, the young Louis asserts his intention to govern as well as rule. Mazarin's fiscal advisor, Colbert, warns against Fouquet, the Surintendant who's been systematically looting the treasury and wants to be prime minister. Fouquet believes Louis will soon tire of exercizing power; he overplays his hand, offering a bribe to Louis's mistress to be his ally. She reports this to the king who arrests Fouquet. Louis and Colbert design a brilliant strategy to keep merchants making money, nobles in debt, the urban poor working and fed, and peasants untaxed. Years later, in a coda, we see Louis exercising the power of the sun. Written by
Jean-Marie Patte, an office clerk moonlighting as an amateur actor, had terrible difficulty memorizing his lines, and had to read from cue cards in most of his scenes. Roberto Rossellini believed that Patte's awkward, unrehearsed nervousness mirrored that of Louis as he takes on the responsibilities of kingship. See more »
I'm going to go ahead and make the rather bold statement that Rossellini's biographical films are the true end and completion of the project he started with the neo-realists. I do this in a rather roundabout way involving personalist philosophy and Andre Bazin, but what most interests me is where the other neo-realists ended up. Fellini found a strange hybrid with elementary surrealism, De Sica plunged into sentimentality, Visconti's outlook became increasingly epic and grandiose. But in Rossellini we arrive at pure personality, and pure reconciliation of physical circumstances and self-determination. It is apparent that this is not a typically exaggerated biography, but this is not mere truthfulness. It's all in the approach, and Rossellini understood this perfectly. The shots are very characteristic, and the sets have a low-budget, but Rossellini's vision is the dominant, and very welcome, force of the film.
5 out of 5 - Essential
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