The Satin Slipper (1985)
"Le soulier de satin" (original title)

 |  Drama  |  8 January 1986 (France)
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During the century of the Spanish Gold, Doña Prouhèze, wife of a nobleman, deeply loves Don Rodrigo, who is forced to leave Spain and go to America. Meanwhile Prouhèze is sent to Africa to ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Luís Miguel Cintra ...
Don Rodrigue
Patricia Barzyk ...
Don Prouhèze
Marie des Sept-Épées
Anne Gautier ...
Dona Musique
Bernard Alane ...
Le vice-roi de Naples
Jean-Pierre Bernard ...
Don Camille
Marie-Christine Barrault ...
La lune
Isabelle Weingarten ...
L'Ange Gardien
Henri Serre ...
Le premier roi
Le deuxième roi
Catherine Jarret ...
La premier actrice
Anny Romand ...
La deuxième actrice
Bérangère Jean ...
La bouchère
Franck Oger ...
Don Pélage
Jean Badin ...


During the century of the Spanish Gold, Doña Prouhèze, wife of a nobleman, deeply loves Don Rodrigo, who is forced to leave Spain and go to America. Meanwhile Prouhèze is sent to Africa to rule the city of Mogador. Ten years later Rodrigo leaves America and travels to Africa in search of Prouhèze to find out that she died and eventually meeting her daughter. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

8 January 1986 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A király kegyeltje  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Referenced in One Hundred and One Nights (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

2 January 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Satin Slipper is a near seven hour metafictional trans-continental theatrical epic, realised by Manoel de Oliveira from the staged period drama of Paul Claudel. It is weighty, inspiring, and exquisitely beautiful. The movie opens with two quotes, which frame the film, regarding the mysterious ways of God, the second of which, "etiam peccata", "even sins", is a reference to St Augustine, who added this to a then famous phrase, giving, "Omnia cooperantur in bonum, etiam peccata", which is to say that everything happens for the glory of God, even sin.

The opening scene contains an exhortation by a dying priest, that his brother, Don Rodrigo, who has given up his studying for the priesthood, in favour of an exploration of power, for yoking the world to his will, be led back onto the path of righteousness, and that his sins be Augustinian in nature. Rodrigo's journey provides a skeleton for the movie, which however contains numerous supplementary stories and messages.

After the introduction, I do not think that you could watch straight the next nearly seven hours of this film without going mad, or rather it would be like holding a cup and letting the continuous pouring of wisdom and beauty overflow and go all over the floor. The Satin Slipper has seven hours of content, of talking where it pays to listen.

Rodrigo, who will later mirror his brother, has a grand destiny, the life of one real person is not enough for this character, he is a composite of at least two historical figures, Rodrigo de Vivero y Aberrucia, governor general of the Philippines, and Antonio de Mendoza, first Viceroy of New Spain. In real life Antonio accepted the role of Viceroy only after it had been turned down by three men, but here Rodrigo is the only man for the job, a typical exaggeration in a film of super-hype. He travels to the New World and manages to harness hardened megalomaniac renegades under the yoke of the King of Spain, Don Ramiro and his wife for example are literally portrayed as Tarot cards in Rodrigo's deck (the Magician - le bateleur, and Temperance).

There is the essence of life in this movie, the drops of stuff that got added to clay to make people. Whether that be from Mary of the Seven Swords who brims with unvarnished audacity and exuberance, who is youth itself, to the earth song that is Jobobara, a sexual Mooress, to her mistress Prouheze, mad with life, mad with love, who sets a trap around herself and leaves the resolution to fate, to lovelorn Don Balthazar whose consummation is for a tear to roll down into his heart. In a movie full of digressions that attempts a view of life in the round, my favourite digression must be the night-time efforts of Hinnulus and Bidens, two scientists in little boats who ignore one another and attempt to pull a great whatsit from the sea. It's an excoriating lampooning of the scientific method. I think of all the liquors to intoxicate, another great one is ravings about the Turks, this belief that there is God's work to be done on earth by extirpating the Moors, which must have been a great source of clarity to many.

In a movie of often fantastic beauty, the imagination is stoked furiously, and the best images are the ones you don't see on the screen, such as a wizard scattering an army from in front of a fortress, or an Indian priest caked white in parrot dung, wrapped round by a snake, images described by the characters. I think this effect is one of several by Oliveira to engage the audience and get the spectator thinking actively, using their imagination, and thinking about how the lessons of the movie may apply in their lives.

There will be home truths for everyone here, but for me Dona Prouheze's condemnation of her husband Don Pelagio, "Or it may be he is so proud, to make me love him, he disdains to appeal to anything other than the truth.". I also liked pearls of wisdom such as couples only loving what they build together, and descriptions of love, such as the feeling of regret for the time you did not know your lover.

The excesses of God's plan seem often to be exorbitant, even for One so mysterious, twice a whole ship of people drown in aid of details of the destinies of two of the main characters, and highly winsome characters often exist on this earth only as auxiliaries to the blithe. The message here may well be about tyranny, but also that the vast majority of people on earth can only expect to hear stories and get used, with the implication that they should prepare for the next life. The fruits of Rodrigo's labour, a tremendous gift, are rudely compensated for by his humiliation.

Clearly one of the great movies in my opinion.

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