Jefferson in Paris (1995)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, History  |  31 March 1995 (USA)
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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 ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Estelle Eonnet ...
Polly Jefferson
James Hemings
William Short
Nicolas Silberg ...
Monsieur Petit
Catherine Samie ...
Lionel Robert ...
Cook's Helper
Jean Rupert ...
Yvette Petit ...
Paolo Mantini ...
Mutilated Officer (as F. van den Driessche)


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature theme, some images of violence and a bawdy puppet show | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

31 March 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jefferson em Paris  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)


$2,474,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Sally Hemmings' gown made from the patterned gray fabric selected by Thomas Jefferson and Mrs. Cosway is the same costume worn by Jessica Oyelowo (Sarah) in Sleepy Hollow (1999), and by Billie Piper (Fanny Price) during the play rehearsal scene in Mansfield Park (2007). See more »


When Thomas Jefferson arrived in Paris, Louis XVI was still a 31-year old king and not a 63-year old Michael Lonsdale. See more »


Maria Cosway: That's how it is here. People play at love. It's not serious. It is different in Italy. There, we kill for it!
See more »


Featured in The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (2004) See more »


Written by Maria Cosway
Performed by Mary Nichols (alto) and Jan Walters (harp)
See more »

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User Reviews

Watch this film!
11 September 2002 | by (Manchester, UK) – See all my reviews

I watched this movie last night. Unbelievably, Channel 4 (tv channel here in the UK) scheduled it at 2.15am - right in the middle of the night! Who on earth is likely to watch it at that time? I just hope some people decided to record it & watch it later.

I think its a great film. I couldn't stop watching it. It gives you an insight into Thomas Jefferson and his personal life, and into the French society of the time. The film is also visually great.

But, as with any movie, it has its flaws. My main criticism is that it was too much like an historical documentary. It didn't have the courage to speculate more about the relationship between Jefferson and Sally (the black slave girl). Jefferson must - in real life - have displayed more emotion with the slave girl than is depicted in this film, especially behind closed doors. Yet we don't see it. We see Jefferson being more affectionate with his daughter (Jefferson hugs her at one point in the film), than with Sally the slave girl, and yet he is supposed to have been passionately involved with Sally & fathered her children. Therefore it has a documentary feel to it, without any fictional element, which leaves the viewer somewhat detached & disconnected.

But credit to the maker's for tackling the subject, and it's certainly made me interested in learning more about the man.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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