10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
"Tom Jones" in Venice and Versailles
Mentor-2 (RussSveda@aol.com) from Baden-Baden, Germany
18 February 2003
This entertaining, lavishly-produced film tells the story of Giacomo
Casanova (born 1725), and his adventures in Venice and Versailles. Those
who have seen "Tom Jones" (1963) will find this equally enjoyable, perhaps
even more so because of the frank nudity and simulated sex possible now on
TV but which could only be suggested (such as in the famous eating scene)
forty years ago.
The real Casanova was a universal genius and a born charmer who really did
escape the "lead prison" in Venice, and really did set up the French
national lottery. As a plot device, writer Michael Hirst -- who wrote the
screenplay for "Elizabeth" (1998) -- invented the character of de Bernis,
the French ambassador to Venice who befriends the young Casanova, only to
turn on him after Casanova seduces de Bernis' wife. When Casanova arrives
in Versailles, de Bernis is Minister of Foreign Affairs. At Versailles,
Casanova befriends Madame de Pompadour, the official mistress of Louis XV.
De Bernis opposes the Austrian alliance proposed by Madame de Pompadour,
seeks to use Charlotte d'Estrades to displace Madame de Pompadour in the
King's affections. D'Estrades of course has fallen in love with
The real de Bernis was a jolly cleric, a close friend of Madame de
Pompadour, and ambassador to Rome, not Venice. Hirst would have done
to pattern his villain on the Duc de Richelieu, who really did use Madame
d'Estrades to displace Madame de Pompadour. The latter foiled this plot
proving to the King that Madame d'Estrades had stolen a secret document on
foreign affairs from the King's desk, to give to Richelieu. Happily, the
document was a forgery Madame de Pompadour had planted as a trap for the
sneaky, snivelly d'Estrades.
As usual, history is more interesting than historical fiction. But, as
Italians say, "si non e vero, e ben trovato" (if it's not true, at least
it's a good story).
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