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One of the obsessive speculations in American history is whether Thomas Jefferson, in the years before he became president, had an affair with (and fathered a child with) his 15-year-old slave Sally Hemings. JEFFERSON IN PARIS follows Jefferson to France (as the U.S. ambassador to the court of Louis XVI), following the death of his wife his friendships and flirtations with the French, his relationship with his daughters and slaves from home (especially Sally), against the backdrop of the beginning of the French Revolution. Written by
Michael C. Berch <email@example.com>
We are invited here to see some of the more infrequently discussed aspects of the multifaceted Thos. Jefferson: architect, scientist, horticulturalist. Less of these perhaps than we might like, but more than we usually receive. Jefferson the scientist is mostly implied -- he witnesses one of the early Montgolfier ballooning experiments, for example.
The primary focus is on the contentious matter of Jefferson's affairs of the heart. These include, most notably, a speculative miscegenetic one, but there is a second one, better documented, for contrast. Even if one suspects that the decision to direct attention here was primarily a commercial one, those portions of the film are well enough executed, while the creators, Prawer Jhabvala and Ivory, do provide us with a little seasoned food for the intellect, both here and elsewhere.
"Jefferson in Paris" does contain a few speech anachronisms but otherwise seems to have found the flavour of the period. Altogether, not an exceptional film, but one which has much to recommend it.
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