An aspiring young physician, Robert Merivel found himself in the service of King Charles II and saves the life of a spaniel dear to the King. Merivel joins the King's court and lives the ... See full summary »
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Helena Bonham Carter,
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Robert Downey Jr.,
Natasha Gregson Wagner
An aspiring young physician, Robert Merivel found himself in the service of King Charles II and saves the life of a spaniel dear to the King. Merivel joins the King's court and lives the high life provided to someone of his position. Merivel is ordered to marry one of the King's mistresses in order to divert the suspicions of another one of his mistresses. He is given one order by the king and that is not to fall in love. The situation worsens when Merivel finds himself in love with his new wife. Eventually, the King finds out and relieves Merivel of his position and wealth. His fall from grace leaves Merivel where he first started. And through his travels and reunions with an old friend, he rediscovers his love for true medicine and what it really means to be a physician. Written by
P. Wong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Composer James Newton Howard's main theme is based on a music from The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell. See more »
When Merivel leaves the Fire of London, he is floating down the River Thames. He is, apparently, discovered 15 miles from Bidnold, which is in Suffolk (unreachable from the Thames) See more »
Opening Title Card:
In 1660 Charles II was restored to the English Throne ending 11 years of Oliver Cromwell's bleak Puritan rule. Thus began the age of Restoration. It was an era of scientific discovery, artistic exploration and luxurious sensuality.
Opening Title Card:
It was also a time of natural disasters and archaic medical practices. Science was pitted against superstition. This is the story of one man's journey through the light and dark of those times.
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The set design and art direction on this movie was entirely mesmerizing! I will never forget the scene in which Dr Merivile returns to court (after The Plague has ravished London) in which this huge heavy swishing pendulum like incense burner, apparently to help ward off sickness... makes such a haunting and ominous sound as it waves smoke across the vast room...you can almost smell it! This movie is robustly lush and unnervingly eerie. As has been mentioned by a few others on the database...it's full of contrast on all levels.
Personally, I was gladly surprised at how inventive Robert Downey Jr was with the role of Robert Merivel. He began with a laughing stupidity which grew to eventual compassion and downright intellect by the end of his story. Sam Neil is always all around proficient at what ever he takes on, his portrayal here is no exception, although I think he granted Charles II a lot of likableness and charm that was surely improbable in reality. Got to love the fifty or so Spaniels meandering with him down the plush hallways of the nobility through out the kingdom. And the scenes with intricate scientific inventions and mechanisms of the era were sheer beauty to behold. At the same time there was such desperation and bleak contrast when dealing with the devastation and hopelessness of The Plague...only to be followed by the horrific Fire Of London. It's a wonder civilization survived at all in England at the time. The movie's art direction was of such a brilliant intensity. Parts of the script were a bit slow but the visuals tended to make up for it. The only truly unfortunate aspect of the film was the casting of Meg Ryan...just Plumb Awful(as they say)in the role of Dr Merivil's asylum inmate lover....who was by the way, miraculously cured of her insanity by his physical attentions. Whoever twisted Hollywood arms to get her on this project should be quartered and drawn.
Considering all, this movie made me curious enough to download a copy of Samuel Pepys Diary 1665 to read more about the history of the Restoration. Isn't that what a good historical adaptation should do?
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