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In 1671, with war brewing with Holland, a penniless prince invites Louis XIV to three days of festivities at a chateau in Chantilly. The prince wants a commission as a general, so the extravagances are to impress the king. In charge of all is the steward, Vatel, a man of honor, talent, and low birth. The prince is craven in his longing for stature: no task is too menial or dishonorable for him to give Vatel. While Vatel tries to sustain dignity, he finds himself attracted to Anne de Montausier, the king's newest mistress. In Vatel, she finds someone who's authentic, living out his principles within the casual cruelties of court politics. Can the two of them escape unscathed? Written by
Visually stunning look at the technology and society of "Court"
The film's production value is in league with the best sci-fi films; yet it was a legit piece about European Court in the 17th Century and the impact of the monarchical system of government on love, money, culture and politics. If you've ever experienced an unrequited or forbidden (not illicit) love, you'll empathize with the plight of François Vatel, played by Gérard Depardieu, whose performance is characteristically excellent. The movie's historical elements offer a surprising look at the available technology, even if the applications were anticipated. The love story is not original (stations interfere with true, but conflicted, love), but the context and visual surroundings -- and the fact that it is historically based -- add an unexpected dimension to the viewing, which is best appreciated on a large screen.
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