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Young Dutch landscape architect Meneer Chrome comes to a remote English estate where Thomas Smithers lives with his wife, Juliana. Smithers is determined to leave as his legacy a fabulous garden, to be carved from a wild patch of land beside his home. Chrome receives written instructions from his unseen master via a secretary, and the master is Juliana's cousin, Fitzmaurice, who had romance with Juliana when they were young and plans to make Thomas bankrupt via setting up extravagant garden and to make Juliana come back to him. Written by
I'm afraid a lot in America won't get the significance of The Serpent's Kiss as far as the gardens were concerned. At the point of time that this film is depicting 1699 in the reign of William I in Great Britain, the rich nobility even the nouveau rich that Peter Postlethwaite is portraying had this passion for ornate gardens. It was a style trend among those who could afford it. King Louis XIV in France designed the best for Versailles and everyone tried to copy him. So Postlethwaite who is a munitions manufacturer by trade and rich because of it has to have the most ornate garden in the kingdom so he can proclaim his status to the world.
Enter Ewan MacGregor who plays a Dutch designer of gardens, he even worked for William of Orange. He goes to work for Postelthwaite and his wife Greta Sacchi to do his own version of Versailles and he's encouraged in this by Sacchi's cousin Richard Grant who has more than a passing interest in this project. It's his hope to bankrupt Postelthwaite and in turn win Sacchi for himself. Grant got something on MacGregor and he forces MacGregor to help him in his designs.
Without the ornate status symbol garden Postelthwaite may still go bankrupt as he has an ill daughter in Carmen Chaplin and he's paying some heavy duty bills to quack doctors for her care.
Some really fine mansion gardens in the UK that are great tourist attractions still serve as the backdrop of a most aesthetically pleasing film. Things don't quite work out for the plotter Grant and the people he uses and the ones he plots against. But that you see the film for.
If you understand the concept that in 1699 those ornate gardens were a status symbol than The Serpent's Kiss will make sense to you.
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